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Here we have the 12th release (yes folks, 12 different albums) from Njiqahdda in the year 2009. Yrg Alms is undoubtedly the pinnacle of those 12, but possibly the pinnacle of their recording career. Njiqahdda presents to us 70 minutes of unrelenting, atmospheric and emotional metal.
There is a definite progressive edge on this album. Gone are the days of playing 4 riffs for 20 minutes in unwavering hypnosis. These songs unfold, erupt, build up and crash down like towering tidal waves. There is so much happening on this album, it is quite difficult to pick up on the first few listens. The further you dig into it, the more the separate layers show themselves and how they all lend to one another in creating this audio masterpiece. An incredibly complex listen for sure, but absolutely rewarding if the time is given to it.
Raging and beautiful guitar riffs. Thundering bass lines. Complex and completely amazing drumming. Atmospheric washes of keyboards. Agonizing and heartfelt vocals. This record has it all, there is something for all fans of black metal influenced music on here. The album drifts from black metal, post-rock/metal, shoegaze, funeral doom, dark ambient, noise and there is even traces of electronics (mostly demonstrated in track 4; Yrg Alms). This is all seamlessly integrated into each other so that it sounds completely organic and not in the least bit forced. Truly no easy feat for any artist, especially those who traverse all over the genre spectrum as Njiqahdda do.
Anyone who owns a handful of Njiqahdda's past efforts probably saw this album coming, since all of their work seems to pre-date itself in one way or another. And not in a bad way, there are allusions to all the things this album possesses in past works. But Yrg Alms presents them in such a new, refreshing way that it is almost as if the duo had completely re-invented itself while recording the album.
Another group of major highlights for this album are the artwork and production. The artwork is the ultimate representation of how this album is. It depicts the agony, longing and sadness to be found within the audio presentation. There are few albums where the artwork completely meshes with the music and this album is one of those few. Major kudos to the artist, Rebecca Clegg, for truly understanding and fully realizing the art this album needed.
The other highlight is the astounding production of the album. Not over-produced, nor under-produced, but completely perfect for the mood of the record. All the instruments are clearly heard and distinguishable from each other. The mix works very well with guitars and drones panned all over the stereo spectrum, the drums are tight and punchy, the bass has a grueling low-end presence, the vocals are more in front of the mix allowing them to be heard better and the keys are placed far back enough to not drown out the rest of the instruments, but to lend a majestic backdrop for the rest of the instruments to truly shine.
I cannot say enough about how amazing this album is. Truly a gem in every way. This album, alongside Skagos, Krallice and the new Blut Aus Nord are undoubtedly the number one black metal/black metal influenced albums of 2009 as far as I am concerned. Do NOT miss this release, pure genius.