A second album by Anima Nostra, a collaboration between Sweden’s recently intensely profile-heightening Nordvargr, and French Margaux Renaudin, is on the way. Not having heard their first joint effort, which used the label “Anima Nostra” as a mere title for an album, but feeling intrigued by Malignant Record’s notes on this one, I decided to jump right in. No preconceptions, except for the many that come from decades of experience of Nordvargr’s work in various projects.
I was not exactly sure what to expect, but had quite high hopes. When “Composition for the Shadow Self” began with low key, filthy electronics mixed with ritual bells and ominous grunts, I thought I had things roughly pinned down. About one and a half minutes later, the first surprise kicked in. Slow drums and growling vocals burst forth, making the track not-quite-but-almost metal. The move would fit very well on one of the early Esoteric albums, or just about any really heavy and slow doom metal album. The atmosphere which is built throughout the remainder of the track’s six minutes is indeed very similar to something straight off of Epistemological Despondency, except there is no recognizable guitars involved. Everyone’s heard of doom/death, but fewer have probably heard of doom/death industrial. Well, this is it.
As the album progresses, it shifts gears time and again. “Naamah” is a minimalist, noisy ritual industrial track that sounds like it just plain don’t like people no-how. “Blameless” begins in a similar way, but transforms into a heavy rhythmic affair with angry semi-growls. The following “Tabula Smaragdina” is plain ole’ dark ambient, but with melodic female vocals on top. And thus the album marches on for nine solid, ever mutating compositions. On title track “Anima Nostra” there are hints of the orchestral, noisy industrial of Puissance – “Intermezzo for the double-wanded one” goes for freaky, experimental electronics with yet another touch of dark ambient.
If the sound is a veritable smorgasbord of genres and sub-genres, upon which the doom metal sandwiches are the oddest if not the rarest dish, the overall ambiance is solid and held together. In no way does Atraments sound like a compilation album – the production, the vocal style(s) and the occult themes all work together to tie a beautiful bow of hateful consistency around the whole thing. Even so, you’ll spend quite a few minutes being flabbergasted by the scope of Nordvargr’s and Margaux’s creative animī, and the seamless merging of dirty, post-mortem type noisy industrial with heavy, rhythmic and even beautiful musical artistry. The most formidable track, at least at the time of writing, is “Solemn Majesty”. The combination of a driven, rhythmic and accessible style with great instrumentation and industrial aggression makes it the perfect car stereo track.
You’ll have to hold on a while before getting your paws on this one, til June 2nd to be exact, but it’s well worth the wait. It’s silly to talk about any album “redefining how you think about X”, but in this particular case it is a little difficult to avoid. Anima Nostra’s take on death industrial, ritual ambient and about five other genres is absolutely spectacular, and may actually modify your personal take on music in general.