Released by: Season Of Mist
Genre: Post black metal
Release date: Out now!!!
Byron Lemley – guitar, vocals
Brandon Lemley – vocals
Rhys Friesen – bass, vocals
Roger Leblanc – guitars, vocals
David Horrocks – drums
- Laid Down
I’m going to start off this review on a strange note. Not going to lie, the album cover art literally took my breath away. I don’t believe that has ever happened to me before (not in recent memory anyways). I try not to let my emotions get involved being a huge fan of the black/post black metal scene and the gory imagery usually involved, but it’s a bit different being a parent of a toddler. If you’re a parent of a small child and/or possess an ounce of humanity, and you’ve seen this album cover, you might (or might not) get what I’m saying or feeling as I write this. I’m not going to get into the usual lengthy discussion of whether metal is supposed to be offensive or shocking. Metal can be whatever it wants to be. We’ve certainly seen all manner of gross out imagery that most fans don’t bat an eye at. Here’s the difference with “Home”: The album cover is a real crime scene photo of the real, murdered body of a two year old girl. The victim is Kristen MacDonald, who, along with her pregnant mother and sister, were brutally murdered in 1970. Her father Jeffrey was convicted of these murders. Controversial artwork aside (album cover art here *proceed with caution*), it’s an album that deserves further discussion for its admirable motives and thoughtful execution.
It’s fascinating that Canadian post black metallers (Calgary based) Numenorean brings us out of our comfort zones in order to aid us in finding a better one. Through a meditation on life’s turmoils, the band leads a valiant effort to guide listeners nearer to a sort of existential peace. It isn’t reached necessarily, but the door is at least opened. “Home” opens up the album with a downright sunny-sounding riff and a push and pull throughout its length, dancing between quiet and loud. It’s a tactic that can fail spectacularly if you’re not careful, making for a grinding and repetitive listen, but they use it skillfully throughout not just this song, but the length of the album, and it gives the music a sense of compelling motion. The album almost rushes by, in spite of some over ten minute long songs (“Devour” and “Laid Down”). Numenorean also manage to blend black metal and pop/alternative rock almost seamlessly. How do you mix that sensibility with blast beats and tortured screams roiling over top? It’s no mean feat, and Numenorean’s take on it is one of the best I’ve heard.
As you’d expect, the album takes a darker turn as it progresses, matching the band’s stated theme. “Thirst” has a darker, more classic black metal feel to it, and after a brief respite in “Shoreless,” “Devour” rolls in with an even darker feel, mixing in some low growls and shouts in the vocal lines. “Laid Down” is appropriately both ferocious and elegiac, marking the end of the album and, metaphorically, life, quietly drifting away.
Though it’s a brilliant album, and here’s to hoping Numenorean can follow it up with something equally compelling, but without staining it with such a repulsive visual. I’ll let one of Decibel’s commenters, T, sum it up much more concisely: “Great tracks, great band, fuck your album cover.”
Essential Tracks: “Home”, “Devour” and “Laid Down”
Written by: Danielle Bates