Reviewed: December 2020
Released: 2020, Century Media Records
Reviewer: Kira Levine
Dutch metallers Soulburn return this year with album number four, NOA’S D’ARK, following up 2016’s Earthless Pagan Spirit. It was released through Century Media Records on 13/11, which fell on Friday the 13th, a date with unlucky connotations.
The lyrics on NOA’S D’ARK contain nods to the work of philosopher Frederich Nietzsche, while the title appears to be a pun on a biblical reference.
A slow-yet-sinister start to “The Morgue of Hope” kicks NOA’S D’ARK off, introducing the listener to Soulburn’s varied soundscape. Engaging and eventful, the opener exceeds seven minutes long but not a second is filler material.
“Noah’s Dark” wastes no time baring its teeth right from the jump, with Twan van Geel snarling over the buzzing guitars and booming rhythm section.
“Tempter ov the White Light” hosts some great tension-building moments that gradually evolve into an onslaught of fury, commanded by Verhaar’s drumming and really showing off the band’s technical skill.
Van Geel’s lyrical assault makes for some uneasy listening during “Anarchrist”, aided by unrelenting axe-work from Daniels and Kreft.
“Shrines of Apathy” has an unmistakable groove to it, and Soulburn really play with speed here to devastating effect. The vocal performance particularly shines, adding to the reasons track five is a definite highlight on NOA’S DARK.
The opening vocals to “Assailed by Cosmic Lightning” provide some variety where lyric delivery is concerned. It leads seamlessly into “Triumphant One”, the shortest offering, though tracks six and seven could be mistaken for one 5-and-a-half minute long song.
“Anointed – Blessed – and Born for Burning” pales in comparison to the longer efforts. It feels as if each track under the four-minute mark just does not have the capacity to handle the complex tempo changes competently enough, therefore not allowing for such a dynamic listening experience in these instances.
Catchy number “The Godless I” gains its strength from its melodic moments and catchy chorus, much like “Shrines of Apathy”. The contrast in vocal styles work much more successfully here than on “Assailed by Cosmic Lightning”, as the transitions between them flow naturally.
“From Archaeon into Oblivion” makes great use of some ethereal-sounding backing vocals, which really reinforce the eerie mood the entire album communicates. Shifts in speed, sound effects and other strong points heard on the prior tracks resurface here to devastating effect.
NOA’S D’ARK carries a strong old school vibe. The lo-fi production seems to hold the record back in terms of sound quality, putting a bit of a dampener on the overall solid execution, as there is a lot going on sonically.
A great mix of black, death, and doom. If you like your metal sounding ancient yet new, give NOA’S D’ARK a listen. You will not be disappointed.