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Blistering return to all time form - 96%

caspian, October 10th, 2017

It's an odd feeling going back to a band that you still like, maybe even love, but that doesn't inspire the same intense infatuation you had with them when you first encountered them. I still feel that I really like Nadja, just as I still really like, say, Metallica. But a lot of that is most likely rooted in those early listening experiences- discovering something new, something you hadn't heard before and something that at best you had only hoped music could achieve. Those early experiences of being uni student stoned and being pulverised by songs like Flowers of Flesh and Memory Leak will probably never be matched. Similarly, while I've been having a lot of fun learning Blackened and Frayed Ends of Sanity on guitar recently, it's not quite the jaw dropping experience I had when I was 12 and had just bought ...And Justice For All. With both bands it's a weird mix of enjoyment tinged with some nostalgia, "will anything move me this way again?"

Luckily with this album there's a bit of a twist in the tail and this isn't just going to be 5 or so paragraphs of vaguely nostalgic whining. Essentially this is really really good- maybe a spark still burns and I'm still really in love.

It's peak Nadja, basically- it's long, it's this ridiculously massive amniotic sac of fuzz, and it's had the absolute shit composed out of it. I feel like most nadja records have one out of the three, the good albums 2 of those features and only the truly great- Touched 2007, Bungled and hte Botched, Truth Becomes Death, Thaumogenesis, occasional songs elsewhere- manage to combine them all.

The Knife is where it all combines together in a 35 minute long orgasm, but The Stone and The Sun are both pretty great tracks too, albeit with less of the eyes-rolling-into-the-back-of-your-head pleasure that Knife brings. As with most good albums, this thing makes the most sense if you listen to the whole thing in one shot. It's hard not to write a bunch of shitty metaphors about it; essentially the albums has a significantly anxious, uneasy edge- fairly riffy in the first two songs- before things resolve somewhat in The Knife. Stages of waiting for death? Or the other way around- someone desperately fighting for life and finding it in the end- a mountaineer staggering down back towards basecamp, existential panic turning into a monomaniacal will to live, frostbite be damned?

Either way it's a great, great listen. The usual fuzzyness is in spades, of course- I feel like this is the best guitar tone he's had for a while, still huge, but perhaps not pushed to the point of parody where it has been at times. There's enough dynamics here and there to the point where this isn't just an enduro dronefest- clean guitars here and there, a few tempo changes in The Sun- breakdowns where you don't expect them, interesting structural ideas, so on and so forth. Perhaps a bit more of a late original Swans influence then usual, there's the pushing, surging, anxiousness of the whole thing, and the riff that closes out The Knife is something that Gira would do horrible things to write, I reckon.

Yeah, that riff. Damn, what a moment, what an achievement for Nadja- if it's not the best thing they've ever done it's really close. I've often said all good riffs are dependent on context- the surrounding material has got to be good. Here's no exception, as the uneasiness of it all slowly firms into resolve, before the final 12 minutes (yeah, 12 odd minutes of the same riff- it is still very much a drone album) is an utterly triumphant march down the mountain, or ascending into and out of bodily death. Whatever you want to make of it. It's just completely grand.

So suffice to say I dearly love this album, and if someone were to ask me about Nadja it'd be one of the first I'd recommend. Just great to see that these guys had another classic in them. Utterly monumental.