Haeresis Noviomagi and its associated bands have been some of the most interesting to watch in European black metal over the past few years, as groups like Turia, Solar Temple, and Lubbert Das have showcased beautiful and violent material that each went off in their own direction. The newest project associated with Haeresis Noviomagi, Nusquama, contains members of Turia, Laster, and Fluisteraars so expectations are certain to be high that their debut Horizon Ontheemt will be another highlight of Dutch black metal. And while it does prove to have some truly stunning moments that provide both swirling layers of chaos and beauty, it does feel like Nusquama still has room to further distinguish itself from its creators’ other bands and truly step out onto its own path.
As someone that’s been enthralled by just about everything coming from this collective of musicians recently, that last sentence isn’t necessarily a negative. If you’ve spent any amount of time with the bands mentioned in the introduction, what you’ll find as you make your way through Horizon Ontheemt is that it provides a similar level of dense, layered instrumentation that seeks to fully envelop you in its mystical atmosphere. The difference here is that the songwriting approach seems a little more straightforward, with the riffs building naturally towards grandiose climaxes and coming through as more singularly focused. There’s a bit less of the sudden transitions and bleed-through of other genre influences that transformed each of the other groups that Nusquama’s members are in, but even with that in mind this album has ended up being one that has remained in constant rotation since I got it. All the trademarks that made this type of black metal so compelling are here, from the bright tonality that draws you in with a warm and inviting feel to the whirlwind of layered riffing that twists everything into a raging storm.
Turia’s vocalist is also behind the mic on Nusquama, and for much of the album her higher pitched shrieks and screams dominate the recording. Given the slightly cleaner tonality that is used for much of the riffs the contrast between how harsh and abrasive the screaming is and the warmer feel of the instrumentation works well in pulling the listener in to each of these songs, and it also helps that the vocals aren’t buried in the mix. The second track “Wrevel” switches this up a bit with periods of cleaner singing that gives off a bit of a spiritual feel similar to Solar Temple, but for much of the album the harsher ranges make up the bulk of the performance.
Nusquama’s debut offers dense atmosphere with equal amounts of beautiful, ethereal moments and violent, furious ones. For better or worse it sounds like what you would imagine this combination of musicians would create based on their past endeavors, playing up the strengths of each one and providing moments that are reminiscent of their primary projects without sounding like an exact copy. If this type of black metal is your forte Horizon Ontheemt is worth seeking out, but hopefully this is just the beginning as Nusquama continues onwards towards a direction all its own. Horizon Ontheemt is out now from Eisenwald and Haeresis Noviomagi.
-Review by Chris Dahlberg
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