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9/10 Chaim

NORILSK - Japetus - CD - Indie - 2014

We've got no idea where these Canadian local-patriots came from, but they are a breath of fresh air in the doom circles of the low and heavy end of the scale. The style this duo plays is quite unique: they fuse heavy stoner rock with the aesthetics of death metal; an epic growler (who occasionally also whispers with a voice full of malice), slow and ominous drumming and a thick, dank atmosphere. The whole production sounds supreme, like a dark theater play or a morbid cabaret show.

In a way, Japetus is an avant-garde record. The style and sound is foreign to what doom metal is usually accustomed - rhythmic patterns, song structures and all that; and the whole delivery of the music is all fucked up, governed by crawling and sickening dynamics. Some parts are not even metal par excellence, but ritualistic lamentations with a strong ceremonial vibe.

Japetus is a mini-opera of the dark and the bizarre. In less than 20 minutes, Norilsk goes from the traditional to the theatrical to the psychedelic to the deadly, in huge strides, back and forth, like a gigantic Ouroborous that has no beginning and no end. A turmoil of sounds and landscapes, of aesthetics and ambiances. Norilsk cram into those 20 minutes all of their potential, inventiveness, originality and dark passion.

All three tracks here are excellent. The opener is the most metallic and heavy (in "heavy metal" context). The second track is a brilliant cover of Voivod's "Negatron," which have gotten a unique treatment, sounding like a more fucked-up and hazy Voivod. The third track - another original - is the most singular and interesting track of the lot, even though - and we can't stress that enough - all three tracks are brilliant. It has got that mysterious atmosphere created by all the whispers and strange, cold, clean singing and the music that accompanies those vocals, creating an unearthly atmosphere of depravity and erotica; an oddball of a track, very non-standard, very dark and very non-metallic in essence.

Japetus is without a shadow of a doubt, one of the best and most original recordings of the year - this short recording has more value to the pool of modern music than dozens of other (meaningless) albums out there, in any given genre of hard and heavy music. We are yet to review Norilsk's debut full length recording called The Idea Of North (Hypnotic Dirge Records, 2015), but if that full length is nearly as good as Japetus, we are for a treat. This is one dark ride through the minds of two of the most interesting and unique musicians active today in the underground. (9/10)


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