Thursday, 14 January 2016

Wonderful and Weird: Age of Nefilim - Cataclysm in the Land of the Watchers (2015)

Age of Nefilim's debut album, released in November of last year, is a treat for the ears. I'm not sure how I would accurately describe it without spiralling into a blackhole of over-the-top similes and comparison, so this review is going to be over-the-top and excited, suitable for this type of album. This is a genuinely fun album: Destroy All Humans meets Rick and Morty meets Kang and Kodos meets Abe's Odysee. This is what Carach Angren would sound like if they had been abducted to the Land of the Watchers. Technical death on top of video-game, dungeon diving, hack-and-slash soundtracks.

The artwork caught my eye initially as I scrolled through the cosmic-plains of the interwebs, the music abducted me upon listening and  I woke up this morning compelled to write this post. Intergalactic swamp symphonies reminiscent of Bal-Sagoth and Summoning  form the backbone of this album; it's less power-metal, less flat and more space-age, simply more well produced; according to the gospel of Metal Archives 'it is especially noted by the band members that one of their greatest influences in their composition is Nubuo Uematsu, the composer of the Final Fantasy and Kingdom Hearts soundtracks.' I can hear this here, the sonic soundscape is varied and refreshing, but that's not to say that the fundamental extreme metal elements are not up to scratch.

From the Age of Nefilim Facebook Page
There is a very clean, tech-deathy production throughout which complements the epic, alien landscape that Cataclysm in the Land of the Watchers creates. Inhuman brutal drumming does make way for more textured accompaniments; the guitar work is epic and imaginative in scope reminiscent of Obscura, guitar leads sweep and sing throughout, intricacy and brutality interplay; vocals are one of the albums strongest forces: gurgled snarls, brutal-death croaks, black-metal shrieks and  slow moans (think Dark Fortress) but most engrossing are the symphonic elements that connect it all and differentiate this album from being another clone.

'Poached from Forests and Fields' has a punchy string based base, a flute-like sound meanders, thrash like gang vocals at a few points emerge, runescape-esq trumpet sounds crash through the gurgled vocals - frantic drumming and fun riffs aplenty The entire album is made up of these inter-playing nuanced sounds; occasionally ambient passages silence the extreme metal, at other times they merge as one to conclude with epic, dramatic scope the end of songs such as 'The Flood Swept There Over'.
And overall I really do think that the album flows, it's not too jarring at all.

If you want something fun and creative, something that doesn't take itself seriously yet retains a technical proficiency and care for the craft, this is an album for you.

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