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A bleak cosmic dark-space soundtrack to the universe's decline - 75%

NausikaDalazBlindaz, June 8th, 2021
Written based on this version: 2021, Digital, Independent (Bandcamp)

As debut recordings go, "The Stelliferous Conclusion" sounds intriguing, as any first works that suggest an end to or of something would do to my tiny little mind so of course I had to check out this debut work from cosmic dark-space BM act Nvmen Noctis, a one-man project based in South Australia. The album's title refers to the notion, popularised in a book by US astrophysicists Fred Adams and Gregory P Laughlin, "The Five Ages of the Universe", that we are currently living in the Stelliferous Era of star and planet formation which began when the universe was a million years old and which will end when the universe reaches 100 trillion years of existence, after which the universe will enter the Degenerate Era when new stars cease to form, planets begin to decay and life will become extinct. I'm assuming then that the album's theme contemplates that future time when the universe starts transitioning from the current Stelliferous Era into decline and decay, and how intelligent life-forms and civilisations alive then might react to that change and figure out how to survive when all known energy sources are running down and physicists start jumping out of windows in despair.

If you're familiar with cosmic BM bands like Darkspace and Mesarthim, you'll be well prepared for this album: the music is mostly instrumental with grinding guitars, clicky blast-beat synth percussion and dark background atmospheric wash effects. Vocals ranging from evil goblin gurning to throat singing add a mysterious sonic layer to the music which already has a demented air thanks to its relentless machine nature and clicky beats. A feverish demonic spirit surely inhabits opening track "Infinitum" with all the groaning and gabbling going on behind the remorseless percussion, the cold ghost ambience and droning guitars. The music builds up into a huge amorphous cloud of dense noise, and the impression I have is of tremendous dark and alien oppression. "Requiem" is a little more straightforward atmospheric BM with some actual raspy singing and distinct if very sickly alien melodies present. The track sounds a little bit like an epic musical backdrop to an age-old civilisation in its last stages of decadent, world-weary decline, its rulers drowning in luxurious waste while oblivious to their subjects living in poverty and overcrowded chaos, let alone the stars in the night sky above going out one by one.

Running with the film soundtrack idea, we can imagine panic starting among those rulers and the ruled in "The Observatory", the music becoming frantic and the demon voices going hysterical in the dark shadows as the stars wink out and eternal night starts to descend upon them. The album closes with the title track, a desolate and bleak piece combining starkly dark ambient, furious atmospheric BM and savage death-rattle vocals. Somewhere in the music, church organ keyboards add a stately and majestic touch to the dense turmoil.

Throughout the album the music reaches epic and almost monstrous levels of derangement but it rarely becomes overwrought. This might be because the raw production gives the songs a trashy and sometimes sickly feel rather than the cavernous depth other artists might have given them. The result is that the album rarely sounds, if it ever does, pompous. Despite its oppressive nature "The Stelliferous Conclusion" never becomes an endurance test. While the music's sonic range tends to be narrow, the songs experiment with form, pace, mood and elements of dark ambient. Later tracks include some organ and violin melodies.

I'd have liked the music to be more intense and maybe a bit more exaggerated in its later tracks with the percussion more monstrous and industrial than it is. There is something a bit flat in the music even though it is very layered and dense to the point of becoming chaotic. Apart from these observations, Nvmen Noctis has done very good work in creating a concept and writing and shaping the music and lyrics with thought and care.