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4 May 2010

Review: Azimuths to the Otherworld (Nechochwen)

Nechochwen
Azimuths to the Otherworld
Bindrune Recordings, 2009

Nechochwen’s second album, Azimuths to the Otherworld is an unusual and very creative release which takes time for the listener to fully absorb. The effort is worth it.

Built around a heart of folk-inflected classical guitar, Nechochwen’s compositions are complex, subtle, and exquisite. They weave rich melodic tapestries and evoke a generally warm atmosphere. Yet Nechochwen on this release have expanded beyond the core of their sound to encompass much heavier territory as well.

Drawing in a black and doom metal influence, the album moves periodically from idyllic acoustic musings into aggressive riffage, barking vocals, and strident drumming. These passages are well composed and quite unique – they don’t feel dark but rather almost jazzy (as far as black metal goes anyway), in particular with some excellent lead guitar work and emotive bass playing.

Unfortunately the transitions between tranquil and heavy do not always work out – sometimes what is meant to be dramatic falters a little. This is an area that could do with some refinement for the future, although the album as a whole still stands up very well.

Inspired by Native American mythology, the album also has a small smattering of Native American musical influence, although by and large it sits firmly in the world of classically influenced folk music with metal interludes. The lyrics are a little hard to make out but seem to evoke a range of mythical imagery. Fortunately the vocals themselves are very kind on the ears.

There are many beautiful moments on this CD and its light and positive atmosphere is quite unique. This band certainly has a spirit all of its own. It should be emphasised that this is not really a metal album despite the metal elements, and similarly if you like folk music but dislike metal then you might find these aspects of the band’s sound less that satisfying. But for those of us who find both genres appealing Azimuths to the Otherworld is a splendid treat.

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