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Been off Nadja for a fair while- their tendency towards bad colllabs, the huge amount of albums I already have, the fact that I'd played them to death- been near a year or so since they've been on my regular playlist. Can't keep a good band down though; the potentially lethal mix of curiousity and boredom found a fairly harmless way out in the form of me giving their earlier stuff a listen (still amazing) and seeing which obscure/bad band they're making noise with now. But lo, this is actually very good! As with the other good Nadja collabs- Black Boned Angel, Pyramids, maybe Atavist- it's focused, works for a common purpose, and (most importantly) it features consistently good music.
The music here's pretty cool and (as far as I can tell anyway) a real simple melding of the two bands together. The sky-sized slabs of guitar noise; still there, but less free form and more focused into riffing then usual mixing in with some pretty neat pianolating from (I assume, anyway) the Vampilla. Bit of acoustic guitar sneaks in here and there, a few neat little bits of electronic trickery- nothing too flash or crazily ambitious, but shit works. Yeah, the results are very satisfying- Northern Lights is the closest to a post-rock tune that Nadja will probably ever do; the mix of solo piano and huge guitar walls definitely shouldn't work but does, and brilliantly so; whereas Anesthetic Depth's long, muted build and quick release leaves one perfectly satisfied. Perhaps restraint on bands' parts are what make this so excellent? You definitely get the feeling that they spent a fair bit of time trimming all the fat out of this release.
'Course you can talk about restraint and focus and all that but what makes this record as good as it is is the most visceral, most drawn out track. The centrepiece of the album is what makes this so good, though. 'Icefields'- certainly the heaviest, the most muscular, the most straight out metal thing Nadja's done since Touched- and definitely the best song that they (and by extension, anyone) has done in a long, long time. A real tour de force of riffs- what Echoes of Yul would sound like if they levelled up a lot- with a long, drawn out coda full of some huge drones and piano shimmering over the top. It's a massive, massive track that leaves you rather drained, sweating profusely and with a huge shit eating grin on your face. I'd do terrible things to hear it live!
And that's it! Perhaps another reason why this album is so good is because of the relative brevity; an intro and outro, two short (for nadja) tracks, and the 24 minute behemoth sitting there in the middle. Punishing, beautiful, surprisingly heavy- the best Nadja release for a long time! Buy or die!!!!