Thursday, January 7, 2010

A Storm of Light & Nadja: Primitive North (4.5/5)

Joshua's Top 10 Metal Albums of 2009
#4 of 10

Year: 2009
Genre: Atmospheric Sludge Metal
Label: Robotic Empire
TRT: 66:04

A Storm of Light released a full length last year to mixed reviews. I for one loved it, but many accused Josh Graham (formerly of Red Sparowes and Battle of Mice) of, as one critic put it, "sounding too much like Neurosis without actually being Neurosis".

With this split release, Graham may have taken note and adjusted his style, because these two tracks are probably the best they've released to date, and many of the critics that lambasted the first album are grudgingly admitting improvement.

While there still exists a strong Neurosis vibe, the band seems to have added a lot more of their own style to these tracks. Huge atmospheres, texture upon texture, and even adding female vocals to the mix, all executed beautifully.

I've been disappointed with recent Nadja releases, including the seemingly dime a dozen splits and collaborations that Aidan Baker keeps insisting on releasing.

But the Nadja output is solid here. Instead of mindless drones and boring feedback, this track actually has a destination in mind. And the journey there is quite fulfilling, as Nadja takes you through a spacey and atmospheric trip leading to the eventual peak and descent into swirling nothingness.

The other three tracks are "remixes" of the original tracks, done by the the other band.

I also want to mention that the packaging for this vinyl-only release is absolutely spectacular. The artwork is intricate and stunning, very conceptual and deep.

Pressed on teal plastic, the records themselves are a sight to behold, but the real kicker is the D side. marvelous silver etchings vining their way across the surface and forming intricate patterns around the image of a raging polar bear...does it get any more badass than that?

01 Brother (A Storm of Light)
02 Sister (A Storm of Light)
03 I Make From Your Eyes the Sun (Nadja)
04 Brother (Nadja remix)
05 I Make From Your Eyes the Sun (A Storm of Light remix)

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