Distributor/label: Blood Music
Buy Album [URL]: here
Band Website: https://www.facebook.com/pages/Grey-Aura/290370331019031
Ruben Wijlacker – vocals, rhythm guitar, drums, bass
Tjebbe Broek – lead guitar, keyboards, bass
2. Naar het noorden
6. De wind blies
8. De kust van Nova Zembla
1. Een bevriezende zee
2. Tussenspel I: Vorst
3. Het Behouden Huys
4. Monotonie en isolatie
7. Tussenspel II: Een open zee
10. Nu alle troost ontbrak
If there’s any number one spot that experimental black metallers Grey Aura are going to win this year, it is the prize of ‘Longest Album Title’. But it’s not just a title length that is unique about this Dutch Duo- this album is one of the most conceptually ambitious debuts I’ve ever heard of. Instead of sticking to traditional genre formulas, or adding a little third-wave experimentation like their contemporaries, the Odilk project have attempted to create a whole double disc library which makes use of dialogue, conceptual noise and traditional black metal musicianship.
Telling the tale of 16th century Dutch explorer Willem Barentsz, the album makes an emotional journey, mirroring a story of discovery and blistering hardship. It truly feels like a cinematic experience, and could even be mistaken for a film soundtrack. Dialogue, which is all in Dutch and therefore lost on me unfortunately, helps to create the listenable narrative, whilst the band show of their knack for writing giant, atmospheric riffs with tracks such as ‘Bereneiland’ and my personal favourite, ‘Bedrog’.
A double album is extremely ambitious, and, although atmospheric sections such as the creaking of ships and blasting of wind on ‘Keerwijck’ help break the album up, it is tough to get through all 83 minutes of music in one go. If you see the album as two halves, with an Act I and an Act II, the songs feel more refreshing. Some songs are more diverse than others, however, with ‘De kust van Nova Zembla’ building up slowly with piano and layered guitars to a melancholic crescendo, whereas numbers such as ‘Het Behouden Huys’ are more traditional sounding, combining the grit of Carpathian Forest’s dirtier moments with the mystery and gloom of Immortal’s debut.
This album has just been reissued as a CD on Blood Music, after its initial digital release in 2014. If you are after something cerebral, artistic and progressive, and want to see how black metal is constantly evolving and expanding this is for you. For purists who don’t watch Dutch actors delivering dialogues between their blast beats- avoid!
Review by Jarod Lawley