So yet again, it’s 2015, and despite all of my convictions held that post-black is a trite and boring affair, I have been proven wrong. After being severely underwhelmed by last year’s Deafhaven and its thousands of art-school imitators, group after group have shown me the light. The solution is so obvious: make the music different and interesting. This brings me to Downfall of Nur. Fusing the haunting howls and chord structures of post metal, the constant build of progressive, and the engrossing soundscapes of blackened folk; Umbras de Barbagia is a monument of sorrow.
This album is a bit of a slow burner. In fact, it's a full 10 minutes before the vocals even kick in, but believe me when I say that your patience will be rewarded. Fortunately, the wait is not a chore by any means. Between the deeply sad minor chord patterns and the (unique) folk instrumentation, the well-constructed progressions provide plenty of feeling and engagement. The most abundant untraditional instrument is the quenacho flute. You will probably recognize its sound from Kung Fu, or Kill Bill part 2. But there are also appearances of piano, strings, and even rain sounds. Those who stick around to the final track will also experience a bagpipe performance fit for a funeral procession.
The vocals start off like most post-black acts: fairly unintelligible, screechy, buried in the mix, etc. I was a little concerned at first that this might be where things take a turn for the worst. However, much like with the instrumentation, there is a wealth of subtle variety to be found. When things slow down, Dany Tee (Seelenmord, In Element, ex-Dead Warrior, Those Endless Eyes) goes with something a little more grim and growly that I can actually understand. Even more pleasant are the passages of clean singing that border on a folky chanting. These slower parts feature some very crisp acoustic guitar and tons of reverb on everything. The production choices really help the drums sound deep and foreboding.
While sonically, it would be easy to compare the tone of this to other post-black acts, I find myself thinking more of Enslaved. The two sound little alike, yet the simple, subtle takes on songwriting and manner of black and folk fusion warrant the association. Those who have had the pleasure of listening to Au-Dessus’ debut, Tod Huetet Ubel, Telpathy’s 12 Areas or even Leviathan’s latest album are likely to find enjoyment in this as well. Final word: Dark, haunting, and very rewarding. Check it out on bandcamp for stream and consider it’s low 4 Euro price tag if you enjoy it as much as I did.