And Now The Owls Are Smiling – Dirges

Rating: 3.5/5
Distributor/label URL: http://www.clobberrecords.com
Released: 2021
Buy Album: https://andnowtheowlsaresmiling.bandcamp.com
Band Website: https://www.facebook.com/andnowtheowlsaresmiling

Band line-up:

Nre – Everything

Tracklisting:

01. Dirge I -Grief
02. Dirge II -Rejection
03. Dirge III -Darkness
04. Dirge IV -Solitude
05. Dirge V -Lucidity
06. Dirge VI -Pointlessness
07. Dirge VII -Acceptance

Favorite

08. Dirge VIII -Ascension

 

 

Review:

And Now The Owls Are Smiling are an atmospheric black metal band on Clobber Records, who are from North Norfolk in the UK. They will be releasing their third full length album ‘Dirges’ on January 21st, 2021 and it consists of 8 tracks, totalling 46 minutes. Despite the fact the act formed as recently as 2016, their latest effort also follows three EPs and a boxed set release. Its aim is to transport you to moments that horrify and fascinate you. It is for fans of Xasthur, Grift, Unreqvited, and Empyrium and all instruments and vocals are performed by lone band member, ‘Nre’.

Believe it or not, there are some real moments of magic, here. Lots of them in fact. That’s not unheard of in the genre but needless to say, black metal usually sounds… black. Rather than the blast beats and such creating a rampant and furious atmosphere, the speed of them creates a joyful elation. That’s helped by the the chord progressions that are mostly far less dissonant than usual. There is a bit of tension in some of the upbeat harmonies at times, but they add more spice than darkness. Much like hearing a brief tense chord in Mozart’s more cheerful music. I’m not saying ANTOAS are as sophisticated as the composer, but the act does take a small amount inspiration from him and others, which again, isn’t particularly unusual in the style.

Even the doomier slower sections that are more rarely heard aren’t always particularly brutal. Rather, they sometimes give the listener a bit of a break from the insanity and give him time to reflect. THAT’S unusual, but to be fair, slower track ‘Acceptance’ is genuinely sorrowful. Instrumental ‘Lucidity’ is sad too, but far from morbid. Think the sadness one feels when missing out on a good time. I’m not saying this music is HAPPY for the most part, but it’s probably some of the easiest BM to listen to, you’ll ever come across. You could say the band is a BM Dragonforce – very intense, yet accessible. Sure the shouted vocals are frequently aggressive and malevolent, but the clean singing is again, strangely full of life and a weird kind of joy. One of the main flaws of the music however, is the lack of variety. In that respect, the band can again be compared to DF.

In conclusion, this is black metal with an interesting sound, but I’m not sure if it fits with the ideas the composer had in his head. With songs like ‘Rejection’, ‘Darkness’ and ‘Pointlessness’, you’d expect the music to be standard and miserable. Far from it. Ironically ‘Acceptance’ is one of the darker tracks. Again, perhaps the biggest weakness of the music is the lack of variety. The music isn’t flat out constantly, there are plenty of more chilled out sections, but the same kinds of chords are abused too much. The shorter interludes on the album do add something new, not just to the album, but to the genre in general with their spacey, sometimes futuristic nature but they don’t do enough to truly save the release. Even so, on the whole it is pretty good. Just not amazing. 

Review by Simon Wiedemann

 

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