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While nearly unapproachable aesthetically as the beauty of Njiqahdda’s instrumentation is immediately crushed by its own grainy guitar layering that covers not only the treble end but also much of the low end in a churning blizzard of static, the band’s atmosphere, at the extreme of vicious reverberating sound, is still rather inspiring and uplifting as the robust reverberation gives weight to the fleeting melodies within. Especially in the faster kicking portions of “Purnakalamanna” and throughout “Silvaan Mortaa Esk Aal” Njiqahdda gives their noisy sound some defiant rhythms coupled with gorgeous riffs driving forth from the grossly thick atmosphere and counteracted by the distortion echoing and falling into the nearly indiscernible wailing vocals.
The instruments seem to fall upwards in this band’s style. The guitars drive into the drums which are lower than the vocals that drive into the echoing background beneath the entire reverberating maelstrom. This style keeps the band on a constant defiant pace with mostly rolls and some fills as deviations, but the echoing melodies and rhythms within drive the listener out more forcefully than pull him in. The sound itself, beneath the layers is gorgeous though, and that’s probably the point that Njiqahdda is trying to bring forth here, especially in the nearly indiscernible “Nijuni Elova” but it hits the point quickly as well as works to keep it hidden with a preemptive flood of sound, probably to make volume a determining factor in discerning some aspects of their songs like the almost inaudible fills.
“U Finuug Vraam” is another track with a slow, catchy, and very audible entrance, but when the rest of the band lays their reverberating thunder down the tumult is almost like dead silence growling alongside very slow percussions. The style works, though as it actually captures what gives the drums their weight, and that is their constantly audible sound within any kind of noise. But the noise itself is also a growing focus as the atmosphere becomes a driving onslaught that the drums effortlessly keep up with. This atmosphere doesn’t just work in “U Finuug Vraam”, but it saws like a thousand violins filling an orchestra of brass and bass, tearing their strings to the constant winded thunder above and under it. The seemingly directionless sound on top of this mix is so shockingly vociferous, calmly melodic, yet exasperated and quickly and quietly introspective through its rhythmic backdrop that it’s as much a thunder as a calm hum at times over the flowing chorus of guitars.
Broken quickly by the shrieking “Ishnji Angma”, the tearing harmonies and bouncing kicks off the reverberating bottom surround a hail of snare beats and cymbal hits in a beautiful explosion of distorted passion. The song decays as much as it moves to embrace the melody within its mix and drags this through a few plentiful drum paces where deviation helps the melody sink in. Njiqahdda has done really well with this track in keeping a harmony reverberating yet also aesthetically and technically progressing it through the track. While it may seem easily achieved because of its outward sound, it’s the atmosphere of that cloud of clustered sound that does the most work to keep the theme falling as it trails off. Noise, yes this band is creating noise, but it’s the music within that’s become the appeal of this band’s sound, that and the instrumentation itself which is just crushing.
While the initial blast of Njiqahdda would give off a feeling of foreboding and turn most off, the band plays with a jubilance that really exposes the zeal these musicians have for their music with some very enthusiastic guitars playing a slow melancholy sound compared to the speed of the drumming. The vocals cannot be understood, it’s nearly impossible as they’re mainly additive shrieks to each song structure, but the atmospheres conjured from these shrieks range from the sound of rushing wind through a quiet forest to exasperated cries through a chaotic blizzard. Granted, the vocals aren’t nearly a focus for the band but with such an unusual mix under them, the vocals sound almost inhuman and rather tearing from the void that the atmospheric static is pulling the instruments into.
“Aski” is the final song of the album as the title track and “Nil Fyan Utopiia” are ambient tracks and it kicks some ass. Beginning with a somber guitar introduction, the drums and a second guitar join the mix to change the rhythm and distort the original structure with a few tempo changes and a couple of riff changes as well. The song provides the right melancholy treble sound for what the band’s going for along with the quick and galloping changes of most extreme metal bands but as the longest song on the album, the band takes their time to really hammer down a breakdown into its finale.
In all, Njiqahdda has impressed me a bit. Their sound is reproachfully nasty and viscous and it’s all I’ve ever needed from a black metal outfit. The band plays well with reconciling their noise and melodies, kills the drums with some talented musicianship, and doesn’t seem to compromise whatsoever with anyone else’s sound. Njiqahdda is a rather unique and spirited band but I won’t be surprised at how many are immediately put off by their remorseless noise.
This album is quite possibly not actually that good, but the strong smell of a damp desert, the pounding white noise of the rain on my roof, and a heady mix of exhaustion and painkillers has me tripping balls to this enigmatic collection of ones and zeroes. Njiqhadda are freakin' weird but based on this album at least have a lot going for them, especially when one's floating around in an altered state.
The comparison I get to the quickest here is The Angelic Process, the hugely distorted guitars could be straight off TAP's first two albums. Add a bit of black metal and some super noisy shoegaze/noise rock to the mix and you've pretty much got this band. I like how despite the many droney, TAP-like characteristics, it's all kept quite propulsive, the rhythm section- not programmed and very well played, always a plus- cracking along at a decent rate, with a bunch of interesting drum beats keeping things mostly fast and rather fierce. Indeed, the general tendency towards speed (obviously not Dragonforce tempos, but certainly rather brisk) adds a rather intimidating, animalistic factor to the whole thing.
There's a few things that need getting used to- the indecipherable vocals which are high pitched, extremely noisy and rather annoying, the mixing which for some reason places the drums higher then everything else, but I certainly find this easy enough to get over. I think perhaps it's my general love for the super distorted stuff, which this album has a lot of (and which is normally done well). Again, the TAP love is obvious here- stuff like Nijuni Elova sounds a lot like an ambient interlude from that band but a bit noisier, and a bit less sculptured. If you can tune out the clean vocals (which luckily are typically mixed really low) you could even say it's a freakin great track. The rather well done mixing in of clean guitars in with the huge, swirling maelstrom definitely helps things a lot as well.
I guess it just comes down to form over function. There's the occaisonal vaguely bedroom black metal-ish moment of poorly played clean guitars, or strange mumbling clean vocals, or the distorted beyond a joke screams, but for the most part this is powerful, evocative music that (and really this is the main point of this review) happens to fit in the exact niche of music I like the most. So to conclude I'll say that I absolutely loved this album, and that people with exactly the same taste as me will love this album.
Taegnuub - Ishnji Angma, the newest album from bizarre black metal oddity Njiqahdda is truly one of the most unique pieces in their catalog. A huge stylistic shift is brought into place and this is coupled with some of their most polarizing musical works ever put to record.
There has always been a bit of qualm about calling certain projects 'black metal', Njiqahdda being one of those projects. This release cements the fact that Njiqahdda can blast and thrash with the best of the second wave black metallers. The unique and solitary vibe found on their earlier recordings is still very much
present, but they manage to unearth a whole new level of artistry on this record.
This album is kind of a dualistic approach to the Njiqahdda sound. The duo not only present some of their most aggressive and blasting works ever, but also some of their most dreamy, drone-y and drift-y works as well. A really unique dichotomy that shows that while this band is very comfortable in their niche genre, they still have many tricks up their sleeve that no one can see coming.
The production on this record is also extremely different than most of their previous works. The whole thing is very dry and reverb-less, as opposed to many of their other recordings. This causes a weird kind of urgency throughout the record, invoking a very different atmosphere than what they are known for.
There is no question Njiqahdda is one of my personal favorite projects out now and if they continue to pull 'rabbits out of their hat', this concept will surely cement them as one of my all-time favorite projects in black metal. Utterly and completely recommended!!!