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EP fails to convey power and majesty of winter - 58%

NausikaDalazBlindaz, August 5th, 2013

One of a number of projects past and present by Swedish musician Nachtzeit, Lustre is a solo project combining black metal and dark electronic ambient elements into a style of blackened dark ambient music with nature, solitude and darkness as related and interlocking themes, and the moods, feelings and other mental and psychological associations they might evoke. "Welcome Winter" is an early EP release in Lustre's discography: split into two parts, the recording celebrates the arrival of the coldest and darkest season of the year, anticipating the season's function with its cold winds and heavy snowfalls as a purgative to sweep away past sorrows and burdens.

The guitar sound is good: it's deep and growling with a continuous buzzy sound. The vocals are malevolently reptilian and slurpy, maybe a little too much so, but they don't detract from the guitars. The main problem I have with the music is the sheer repetition and blank tonal nature of the keyboards: they don't seem too bad at first and they're cold enough but after several minutes of hearing the same old po-faced plink-plonk over and over, I'm almost ready to throw the headphones into the nearest brick wall. The keyboard tones have a blunt kitschy ho-ho-merry-Christmas sound in spite of Nachtzeit's best vocal efforts at reminding listeners there is a hidden demon and he allows the synth music to continue on and dominate the music for too long. The later instrumental sections of Part 1 of the EP simply trundle on and on with idiot baby tones over a rising and falling bass line; some buzzing noise guitar clouds in the background and the odd scream of joy at the arrival of winter blizzards are called for here.

Part 2 unfortunately carries on in a similar vein with black metal buzz ambience playing second fiddle to one-finger synth melody loops. The tones are not so much cold as blank and blunt, and really out of place on what should be sinister atmospheric black metal soundscapes. Hilariously at the halfway mark the synth music changes but it becomes warmer and more like an annoying lullaby. The percussion is stolid plodding and the guitars have their work cut out supplying the necessary rough edges and darkness to proceedings.

When all is said and done, I'm left with an impression of sketchy postcard music that failed to convey the power, the majestic darkness and the forbidding cold beauty of a Nordic winter. We all carry in our heads a popular stereotype of what winter might be like in Scandinavia and what Lustre needed to do was to add more that would have revealed a deeply felt personal acquaintance of what Scandinavian winters can be like. Why should we welcome winter when the music here does not do much justice to it?