Northr – guitars, bass, synths, soundscapes
Nathas – vocals and lyricks
Ond – drums
2. Tenebra Mundi
3. Into the Void
4. Vado Mori
Nathr are a black metal (apparently) band on Signal Rex records. They will be releasing their striking debut EP ‘Beinahruga’ on 12th February, 2021 on CD and cassette tape formats. They were formed in 2020, by vocalist Nathas (also of Funeral Harvest); multi-instrumentalist, Northr (Funeral Harvest and dark ambient act Northr); and drummer Ond (Funeral Harvest, and Keiser). The threesome’s first joint effort together features four tracks, totalling 24 minutes. It is without light or hope and brings to mind woodland desolation and crypt-deep cobwebs.
As this stuff is so sluggish, it probably makes more sense to describe these guys as doom metal rather than black metal, but I do understand such a categorisation. The screeched and tortured vocals are very BM, as are the eerie moans and the harsh guitar tones, but don’t expect any blast beats whatsoever. Because the harmonies are often so slow to change, it really means something when you get a new chord. Some of the changes are really potent, dark and intriguing. Not all of them, but it’s not every day you come across an act that can impress by being so seemingly basic. Twin guitars mean the harmonies can be more creative than in more stripped down bands, but sadly they’re not always as cleverly used as one would like. They don’t sound at all WRONG, far from it, but with music this slow, you need ideas that are truly captivating and less predictable. The keys do help create a curious sound, but they are more in the background and pay a less important role.
The production has got somewhat of a richness to it, which also isn’t what many people would associate with BM. Sure such polish is not unheard of in the genre, especially in more modern forms of it, but again, doomy is perhaps a better word to describe the overall mix. I’m reminded of ultra powerful Shape of Despair. As this is a short EP, the ambient noise sections are a little on the long side at times. The two minute noise intro is certainly a bit of a weird way to start the album as it gives off the wrong impression. I was worried everything was going to be like that, so I’m sure many others will be, too. They do create an eerie atmosphere, but so do uses of instruments, and that’s what most will prefer.
In conclusion, this is probably the slowest black metal you’ll ever hear. Whether it is BM or not is debatable, but if the musicians say that’s what it its, that’s what it is. How about a compromise and call it black doom? (Oh, I do apologise, turns out they do call themselves doom as well). Unusually for BM, a lot of thought has gone into the powerful and massive production, and ironically, that’s arguably one of its strongest features. Along with the harmony, it creates a real sense of despair. A shape of despair. It’s not as if the same mood can always be created by simply turning up an amplifier made for 5 year olds full blast. The extra effort that clearly went into this release should be respected, but don’t expect a typical speedy thrill fest.