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Noekk - The Water Sprite CD (album) cover

THE WATER SPRITE

Noekk

Experimental/Post Metal


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hdfisch
PROG REVIEWER
3 stars According to their own words the two musicians (Schwadorf and Helm) behind NOEKK created this album quite spontaneously without doing any takes before just by digesting their ideas and recording them. Taking this fact into account one has to say that "The Water Sprite" became a really remarkable debut album. Combining their melancholic mystic neo folk elements known from their former band EMPYRIUM with Mellotron dominated 70's styled hard rock the result is a sound not that far away from LANDBERK's. It's basically Baldachin's very characteristic and unusual voice resembling rather an opera singer's one not only due to its pathos which gives this band a quite unique appearance.

So what is to be expected by a prog fan from this album? Certainly not really high class quality and technical perfection but still a quite interesting and enjoyable album to listen to especially if one prefers the dark side of prog. The whole album is dominated by a melancholic atmosphere that is already expressed very well by the art work. Songs are ranging from calm, solemn moments with emotional vocals to dark heavy one with lots of Mellotron and changing moods and tempos, maybe not as intricate as ANEKDOTEN, but darker than URIAH HEEP to give some hint for categorising them. Highlights are certainly "Strange Mountain" with its epic and climatic character, the very well-done DEAD CAN DANCE cover and the highly versatile final track "The Riddle Seeker" . But overall there's not any song on here which is a complete failure. They're all very easily memorable after one or two listens without having the character of a typical catchy airplay tune .

This album isn't really an essential one in Prog generally but anyway I gave it already a couple of spins and still find it fascinating and that's for me the best sign for an album to be worth the money spent. Everyone who likes mentioned bands should give it a try, especially since it's available for an attractive price at least (quite oddly) outside of Germany. I'm curious already for their new album "The Grimalkin" that I just ordered today and I read positive reviews about!

Report this review (#78571)
Posted Thursday, May 18, 2006 | Review Permalink
3 stars Ken Golden at laser's edge rated this album as his second favorite symphonic album of 2005 behind Wobbler's Hinterland, so I thought I'd give it a try. I liked Empyrium, but could never really get into them to much because I felt the lyrics didn't go well with the music. This band is a mix of 70's progand modern metal with some more modern effects and keys, and it works quite well. The lyrics are generally based on mysticism, fantasy, with a german poem and the writings of tolkien as influence for two of the seven songs. The songs are generally 5 to 8 minutes long and heavily dominated by dark, melancholic atmospheres courtesy of the mellotron and sung with clean vocals throughout. This album got to me after about 3 listens, and it still grows on me months later. I'm not really to sure of any bands I would directly compare them to, I have listened to all of Landberk's albums and the only thing I see that they have in common is a melancholic atmosphere that permeates throughout, but the overall sound itself is not similar to me.
Report this review (#81899)
Posted Saturday, June 24, 2006 | Review Permalink
Mellotron Storm
PROG REVIEWER
3 stars 3.5 stars. This band has a unique sound, partly because of the the vocals that are pretty hard to describe, and partly because of the tone of the guitar.The songs are mostly slow, atmospheric and dark in nature, with lots of mellotron helping to achieve this sound.

"The Water Sprite" is an excellent track with the aggressive vocals and floods of mellotron that are contrated with the mellower passages. Well done ! "T.B.'S Notion" is a slow paced track with gentle guitar and reserved vocals.This one just doesn't work for me, mainly because the vocals just don't fit for some reason. "Strange Mountain" is great once it gets going after 2 minutes. The mellotron and drumming is outstanding.

There is something about "How Fortunate The Man With None" that stick's in my head long after the song is over. It's actually a DEAD CAN DANCE cover from their album "Into The Labyrinth". "The Fiery Flower" opens with flute and builds as mellotron arrives then a full sound with vocals. It's ok. "Moonface Is Dead" is a dark, slow paced track with mellotron and vocals."The Riddle Seeker" is the song I like the best, featuring guitar and organ with powerful and intense vocals.The guitar melody is a highlight. The song and album end with the tinkling of the piano.

This is a good record that I recommend, but their next one "The Grimalkin" is quite a bit better.

Report this review (#100293)
Posted Saturday, November 25, 2006 | Review Permalink
TCat
PROG REVIEWER
4 stars Noekk is a continuation of the doom metal band Empyrium. The two musicians responsible for the band play all of the instruments between the two of them. The name Noekk comes from folklore about a water creature that can change into a beautiful white horse who gets human riders and then carries them to their death in the water. The music veers away from metal exploring way beyond its boundaries, but remains dark.

The band's first album is "The Water Sprite". The topic of the lyrics has mostly to do with dark folklore. Most of the music is spontaneous with a fairly free structure, but cohesive enough to avoid a lot of dissonance. It is quite accessible as far as progressive music goes, while being complex enough to keep your interest.

The title track starts off the album with a harpsichord solo which is suddenly interrupted by a quick drum riff and the music takes off. When vocals start, you get your first taste of the sound of Thomas Helm's voice which can be somewhat pompous and almost operatic at times, and at others, a low breathy tone, not really a growl, but close. The music itself is heavy progressive with a complex and changing time signature and plenty of guitars and keyboards to make any prog-head happy.

"T.B.'s Notion" starts off soft with a single guitar that quickly gets joined by vocals in a deep underdeveloped, yet rich voice with lyrics written by J.R.R. Tolkien adapted to an interesting melody. This one remains mostly slow and soft with a mellotron added in later. The melody is not a standard structure and seems to be somewhat improvised.

"Strange Mountain" starts with an electric piano, sounding somewhat like Led Zeppelin's "No Quarter". Subdued vocals start shortly after. At around 2 minutes there is a slight build, then it kicks into a mid tempo rhythm with a lot of mellotron and other keyboards with a flute effect, and the vocals become more dramatic. It continues to get better as it goes and the music becomes more complex. There is a sudden switch to a Deep Purple/Uriah Heep sound midway through when an organ comes in. The drums are also quite excellent adding to the complexity of the track. A theme keeps returning through the track.

Next is "How Fortunate the Man with None", a Dead Can Dance cover. It follows the original quite faithfully, except you get to hear it with Thomas' slightly operatic vocals. It is a decent cover that expands just a little on the original as far as the instruments and a little more vocal inflection, but stays pretty faithful with its great lyrics and repeating melody.

"Fiery Flower" starts with an early King Crimson vibe with mellotron and flute. After a minute, it changes to a more dramatic, neo-progressive sound when the full band and vocals start. There is a nice "Opeth" sounding instrumental interlude.

"Moonface is Dead" starts with a soft guitar and echoing effects with mellotron and vocals. This is a slow yet short track. I do have a hard time with the vocals on slower tracks like this one, when he really shines is on the more dramatic and complex passages in other tracks. Fortunately, it's only just over 4 minutes, but even then it meanders too much.

"Riddle Seeker" surpasses the 10 minute mark and ends the album on a high note. You get the full band from the start, playing a great progressive sound. Vocals come in early. Even after the first minute, you notice a complex and changing sound as a new theme is introduced by the bass and then repeated by guitars. This is quite a dynamic track, always changing and complex with tempo and meter changes and several thematic and improvised elements.

This is quite a great album overall, but some might be turned off initially by the dramatic vocals. This is not a huge drawback, because you do become accustomed to them after a while. There are places where things don't move smoothly, but again, the musicianship is excellent and indicative of greater things to come. However, with these minor issues, this is a very dynamic and progressive album, a little on the dark side, but I wouldn't consider it depressing at all. With a lot of complexities, yet staying mostly accessible in progressive terms, this album does have a lot to offer progressive lovers. Since it is quite dynamic, you can expect a lot of both quiet and heavy moments throughout. With only one really weak track, this reaches about 3.5 stars, but I can easily bump this up to 4 stars as it gets more appealing the more you listen to it.

Report this review (#2055531)
Posted Tuesday, November 13, 2018 | Review Permalink

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