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Noekk - Waltzing in Obscurity CD (album) cover

WALTZING IN OBSCURITY

Noekk

Experimental/Post Metal


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TCat
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR
Eclectic / Prog Metal / Heavy Prog Team
4 stars One of the things that I love about the band Noekk is their ability to take dark atmospheres and infuse folk music and folklore into it all, making it heavy, brooding music, but not really relying on metal to convey their unique sound. My interest in the band Agalloch basically led me to the band on a search for interesting and exciting heavy music, and it was inevitable that I would eventually be led to Noekk.

The band is from Germany and founded in 2004 by two musicians formerly from the dark metal band Empyrium. The music is all performed by these two multi-instrumentalists Thomas Helm and Markus Stock, who go by the aliases of Funghus Baldachin (vocals, keyboards, guitar) and F.F. Yugoth (drums, bass, guitar, mixing) respectively. The album 'Waltzing into Obscurity' is the bands fourth album, released 11 years after their previous album.

Starting with the title track (7:23), the album begins with an orchestral effect, synths sounding like an orchestra of woodwinds with a mellotron sound. Suddenly, guitars erupt into heavy riffs and the organ creates a dark foundation as the almost operatic, deep and husky vocals start. The music is as amazing as ever, with a tricky and changing meter, the progressiveness is very apparent. Layers of synth trade places back and forth with complex guitar riffs, and the entire sound remains dark, at times recalling the early prog sensibilities of King Crimson. The vocals might be a little off putting at first, but your ear will become attuned to them. The vocal melodies are almost hymn like, but with a definite evil undertone to them. A surprising warbly synth solo closes out the track.

So now you have your first taste of the band on this album. As we move on to Perseus (5:01), the beat is a little more upbeat, but the monk style vocals continue and contrast the slightly brighter tone of the track. As it continues, the non-standard lyrical structure takes on a lighter tone and the synth riffs continue to keep the track on the brighter side. There is still a dark symphonic feel to it all even with the dark guitars churning along later. 'The Mirror' (4:10) is a bit more acoustic sounding with sustained organ notes anchoring the track. The slow rhythm picks up a bit towards the middle, and the guitars take on the attitude of an old western soundtrack. The folkish aspect of the music definitely reminds one of Agalloch's music, just on a more instrumentally diverse level which has a well-balanced amount of both guitars and keys throughout the music.

'The Giant' (4:46) begins with a dark piano riff which suddenly explodes with more intensity when the full band comes in. As usual, the music is quite diverse and dynamic, moving from heavy passages to softer, yet equally dark sections. The attitude of the music seems to be similar to 'Storm Corrosion', but at times, surprisingly punchier as in this track. But the complexity remains throughout, the music never falling into the traditional melody structure, avoiding the verse ' chorus structure completely. The music later slips into a lovely and pensive section later with soft chimes. In contrast to that, 'On Summits' (4:23) explodes into heavier action and the vocals are even thicker, almost growling at some points, only to later brighten to a major key, then going back to minor later. Even though most of these songs seem to stay in the 4 ' 6 minute range, they are still quite dense with musical ideas and changing structures, and quite well developed.

'Mortlach' (3:03) is a dynamic instrumental that retains the dark symphonic sound, laying somewhere in the gap between 'Opeth' and 'Storm Corrosion' also retaining the folk sensibilities. 'The Windwalker' (4:31) takes on a lighter attitude with layered synth and acoustic guitar, but the same dark, monk-like vocals. Even though it is lighter, it still stays complex, and quickly changes to darker and heavier sections. The most amazing thing here is the way the songs seem like epic anthems, yet mostly manage to stay below 5 minutes, and this can make them sound a bit dense at first. Be sure to listen to the deeper layers and to not be taken aback by the sometimes dense feel of the tracks.

'The Secret Beaker' (5:33) begins with a surprisingly smooth and pensive feel in the beginning, and quite a lovely melody. Deep harmonized vocals later become more airy, and now it reminds me of 'Ulver' with their soft and sinister vocals, yet beautiful accompaniment. During the first instrumental break, there is a lovely exchange between acoustic guitar, organ and keys. The last track is 'The Lily of Reverence' (5:29) which continues in the same dark and dynamic style as before.

Early on with my experience with this album, I have to say that my personal highlights here include 'The Secret Beaker', 'Waltzing in Obscurity', 'Morllach' and 'The Giant', however, I can see that with repeated listening, that all of these track will easily grow on me, as they are quite dynamic and have a great level of complexity to keep the progressive lover in me satisfied for quite some time. It would be nice if there was more variety in the vocal tones, as the husky and deep voices might seem too similar through the tracks, but the level of musicianship and the non-typical song structures should help the listener to keep coming back for more until the sound grows on you. The music is powerful, lovely, dark and sometimes a bit louder, but never to extreme levels on any of those fronts. Lovers of dark, post-metal music with a touch of folk sensibilities will enjoy this album. Those that love Agalloch and possibly Ulver should find a lot to love about this album and this band for that matter. After all is said and done, this is a strong 4 star album.

Report this review (#2249483)
Posted Sunday, September 8, 2019 | Review Permalink
4 stars NOEKK is a group of dark-ambient-sounding prog doom and metal that was built on the ashes of the deceased Empyrium, which made her a dark folk-ambient-symphony of beauty, including the famous "Weiland" 2002 ; But that was before. Yugoth and Baldachin, better known under the name Schwadorf and Helm, showcase their love for the land and the Hard Rock Prog Rock with NOEKK. Nature is the wanderings of the center of two friends, inspired by the poems of Peter Wolfgang Kassel adding a dark climate, austere, cold, cold, gothic, on the edge of melancholy and shoals or shallows human, everything depends on your mood. Here no sprawling virtuosity (nod to the Old Gods such Cthulhu), but a spontaneity in the development of 'gloomy atmospheres. Note also a 60-page booklet with paintings and poems to delve more in this prog-meditative atmosphere. FYI also remember that NOEKK have been linked to an aquatic creature changing into white horse for worse! Known from their first album "The Water Sprite" from 2005 with this footprint so characteristic, tacking between the Empyrium, VISION BLEAK, the Autumnblaze, the LACRIMOSA and ANATHEMA in their darkest productions of KING CRIMSON and GENESIS origins , and of tHE CURE DEAD CAN DANCE in their most cold-wave turns, short, NOEKK summarizes the essence of the meeting doom-gothic-bathmat-pastoral-dark-prog, no less! It left for delving into this 4th album (5 if you count the EP in 2018), an album that concept to think. FYI also remember that NOEKK have been linked to an aquatic creature changing into white horse for worse! Known from their first album "The Water Sprite" from 2005 with this footprint so characteristic, tacking between the Empyrium, VISION BLEAK, the Autumnblaze, the LACRIMOSA and ANATHEMA in their darkest productions of KING CRIMSON and GENESIS origins , and of tHE CURE DEAD CAN DANCE in their most cold-wave turns, short, NOEKK summarizes the essence of the meeting doom-gothic-bathmat-pastoral-dark- prog, no less! It left for delving into this 4th album (5 if you count the EP in 2018), an album that concept to think. FYI also remember that NOEKK have been linked to an aquatic creature changing into white horse for worse! Known from their first album "The Water Sprite" from 2005 with this footprint so characteristic, tacking between the Empyrium, VISION BLEAK, the Autumnblaze, the LACRIMOSA and ANATHEMA in their darkest productions of KING CRIMSON and GENESIS origins , and of tHE CURE DEAD CAN DANCE in their most cold-wave turns, short, NOEKK summarizes the essence of the meeting doom-gothic-bathmat-pastoral-dark-prog, no less! It left for delving into this 4th album (5 if you count the EP in 2018), an album that concept to think. the BLEAK VISION, the Autumnblaze, the LACRIMOSA and ANATHEMA in their darkest productions of KING CRIMSON and GENESIS the origins, THE CURE and DEAD CAN DANCE in their most cold-wave turns, short, NOEKK synthesizes quintessence of the meeting doom- gothic-bathmat-pastoral-dark-prog, no less! It left for delving into this 4th album (5 if you count the EP in 2018), an album that concept to think. the BLEAK VISION, the Autumnblaze, the LACRIMOSA and ANATHEMA in their darkest productions of KING CRIMSON and GENESIS the origins, THE CURE and DEAD CAN DANCE in their most cold-wave turns, short, NOEKK synthesizes quintessence of the meeting doom-gothic-bathmat-pastoral-dark-prog, no less! It left for delving into this 4th album (5 if you count the EP in 2018), an album that concept to think.

"Waltzing In Obscurity" opens the dance with flute intro to TANGERINE DREAM or the POPOL VUH; it's beautiful and sinister to the advanced with bass and vocals, all guided by an organ beyond the grave; Voice puts it hers to ring in a dark atmosphere, the guitar from an abysmal clarity darken the purified air; flute of the first stirrings of GENESIS strengthens its NOEKK and the end riff. "Perseus" is based on this characteristic voice of the group, some spleenante, a little nagging, but very warm; riff, synth basic to Bontempi, on GARY NUMAN, battery, cathedral choirs, preaching, everything is there to enchant you! "The Mirror" or the resurrection of THE CURE for a title watered and latency prog from 2 minutes our memory also remembers THE STRANGLERS, ie; acoustic takes on its charm, the progressive award born with very little in the end. "The Giant" with playful piano, harpsichord DEAD CAN DANCE, nervous guitar riffs, piano and guitar tune pretend narrating a children's story for a title for the NOEKK, as almost pop moments with a mesmerizing voice. "We Summits" follows with crimsonienne atmosphere and zappaienne; the voice and the air even flirt with the dark hours of DEPECHE MODE, then it is a voice that is almost hard with added guitar riff and takes over. "Mortlach" for me Amateur whiskeys, do not leave me indifferent especially since it's an instrumental on leaving the cold-wave gay and depressed. One of the qualities of style NOEKK, synth ambience, yet gentle flute and acoustic guitar, all with hammering of the battery. "The Windwaker" occurs with a more gothic as where the coldness melts our feelings, we feel happy at the beginning THE CURE, the riff again mesmerizing; the flute is wonderful. "The Secret Beaker" for a title almost pop-cold, a typical sound with synth, vocals, organ, acoustic guitar and drums, melancholic icy ballad just to breathe and listen to "The Lily Of Reverence 'last title may be the most rhythmical and atmosphere glaucosity almost feel it mold in it, the voice is more present, darker, the riffs pretend to give here all he can to bewitch us one last time. the riff again mesmerizing; the flute is wonderful. "The Secret Beaker" for a title almost pop-cold, a typical sound with synth, vocals, organ, acoustic guitar and drums, melancholic icy ballad just to breathe and listen to "The Lily Of Reverence 'last title may be the most rhythmical and atmosphere glaucosity almost feel it mold in it, the voice is more present, darker, the riffs pretend to give here all he can to bewitch us one last time. the riff again mesmerizing; the flute is wonderful. "The Secret Beaker" for a title almost pop-cold, a typical sound with synth, vocals, organ, acoustic guitar and drums, melancholic icy ballad just to breathe and listen to "The Lily Of Reverence 'last title may be the most rhythmical and atmosphere glaucosity almost feel it mold in it, the voice is more present, darker, the riffs pretend to give here all he can to bewitch us one last time.

NOEKK knew, after 10 years of gestation, birth of a pure beauty dark album, an album where the atmosphere is drawn to the dark through riffs and where music also seems more open and diversified; this album could have been a concept album with songs chained taking you even further on distant and meditative paths of knowledge. NOEKK has mellowed and synthesized the very substance of his own music for a simple and memorable.

Report this review (#2310068)
Posted Tuesday, January 28, 2020 | Review Permalink

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