Oct 2012 04

Northumbria - NorthumbriaNorthumbria
Category: Noise / Ambient / Drone
Album: Northumbria
Stars: 3
Blurb: Harsh in its textures, soothing in its ambience, this Canadian duo evokes ethereal mood with little more than the standard guitar, bass, and drums.


Metal is generally not considered to be the most soothing of genres; while not devoid of atmosphere or melody, most of its derivations tend to rely on a force and aggression. While the duo of Jim Field and Dorian Williamson – former members of Holoscene and now known as Northumbria – tout their music as ambient metal, the music on their self-titled debut owes less to metal as it does to post-rock and straightforward ambient. Recorded in a 19th century church in Northumberland county, the music on Northumbria comes across with all the reverence of traditional chamber music with the scope of an apocalyptic soundtrack; if one were to imagine Mogwai performing covers of Vangelis’ synthesized film scores, one might get a sense of the effect produced by such tracks as the dystopian “Threnody” with its waves of deep horn-like bass and bagpipe-like feedback melodies and “Black Sea of Trees” with is strangely uplifting howls of shrieking guitar noise evoking a passionate epic at once dissonant and harmonious. The shortest track on the album, “Windhorse” is especially reminiscent in this writer’s mind of Eliot Goldenthal’s score with the Kronos Quartet for the 1995 film Heat, with lush swells of guitar at once poetic, angelic, and wistful. “Lux Lunae” begins the album with a droning wall of screaming noise, a consistent roll of bass, and clatters of percussion, while “Sanctuary” conversely ends the proceedings with strums of chorale like melody, a chiming crystalline cacophony at once devastating and beautiful. Given the amount of distortion awash in reverb on Northumbria, it’s fair to say that some of the album’s dulcet tones will be lost on many ears in the haze of piercing feedback. However, credit must be given to Field and Williamson for evoking such ethereal moods with little more than the standard metal trio of guitar, bass, and drums. Northumbria’s music is not for all tastes, and it will be interesting to hear if or how the band will develop its craft on upcoming releases to emphasize a greater balance between the ambient and metal aspects of its music. If nothing else, Northumbria is a worthwhile listen as harsh as it is soothing.
Track list:

  1. Lux Lunae
  2. Threnody
  3. Windhorse
  4. Black Sea of Trees
  5. Sanctuary

Northumbira Facebook http://www.facebook.com/pages/Northumbria/346750775343604
Northumbria Twitter https://twitter.com/NorthumbriaDoom
Northumbria SoundCloud http://soundcloud.com/northumbria
Northumbria Bandcamp http://northumbria.bandcamp.com
TQA Records Website http://www.thisquietarmy.com/records
TQA Records Facebook http://www.facebook.com/tqarecords
TQA Records Twitter http://www.twitter.com/thisquietarmy
Ilker Yücel (Ilker81x)

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