Released: 2013, Glorious North Productions
Reviewer: Metal-Rules.com UK Team
Dawn breaks over the not quite bleak and icy land of northeast England and with it rises Nordland, a one man heathen black metal project written and recorded by Vorh. Beginning in 2011 with a self-titled release, Nordland were quickly taken on by the aptly named Glorious North Productions, making their album available to all; this was quickly succeeded by their second release in 2012, Bones of Ash. Now in their third successive year of releases, Vorh returns with The True Cult of the Earth, a dark, disgusting and violently beautiful tome to death and decay.
You could very easily label this band under generic Viking based black metal, especially considering Northern England’s strong links with the Anglo-Saxons, but that’s not really what this band is all about. Nordland celebrates the old and the forgotten, the places that are long passed into distant memory and remain unknown to the modern and the new.
With so many innovations in technology and its increasing integration within our everyday existence the album promotes a return to nature and a connection with the earth. There’s a distinctly pagan feel to the themes, although it is a very personal spirituality, shunning organized or shared connections.
Rather than throwing the listener straight under, the album focuses on building up, with The Great Hall of the Sky containing slower, drawn out chords and deep chanting rising up out of the mists. This builds throughout the album, ending on Crows, which has no shortage of blast beats and even a melody line or two. This is masterfully tied in with a focus on a slower feel throughout the song. Faster sections are contrasted by long drawn out guitar chords, creating a feeling of both progression and stasis.
Vorh’s guitars on this record perfectly compliment the ideas and imagery flowing through the songs. The heavy distortion leaves a dissonant buzz ringing in the background that reflect the bleak and unrelenting emptiness, while the inherent simplicity of the tracks pulls us back to the heathen lifestyle that Vorh appears to desire.
Combined with the harsh vocals the whole sound is out and out misanthropic, a desperate grasping for a simpler life away from the modern panic and bustling cities. The album would fit better played in a wooden cabin than on the laptop or CD player of a city dweller. To be truly appreciated, it needs to be heard in silence and solitude.
This album is heathen black metal at it’s very core, a rolling cacophony of evil and emptiness.
It isn’t pushing anything new, it’s everything an atmospheric black metal album should be; despite this it is one of the most enjoyable albums I have heard in a long time.
From start to finish it is unrelentingly aggressive while simultaneously easing the listener with nihilistic but undeniable beautiful harmonies shifting slowly in the background.
This is the sound of nature at it’s bleakest, and most devastatingly enticing.
Review by Caitlin Smith