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Jools Green

Nihilistinen Barbaarisuus

With their origins in Helsinki and now based in Philadelphia, melancholic ambient Black Metal project Nihilistinen Barbaarisuus, whose name translates from Finnish to "nihilistic barbarity", masterminded by Mika Mage have, not surprisingly, a decidedly "frosty wilderness" feel to their sound.

2013s 'Synkkä Tuuli' was an interesting enough debut release, reminiscent of early Burzum, and of its content I much preferred the instrumental tracks, the acoustic 'Itämeri Anomalia', the icily atmospheric 'Arktinen välisoitto' and closing piece 'Ketamiini' as the vocals on the other tracks were rather average and a bit too vague and distant, plus the drum work was a decided letdown, although by the penultimate track, 'Synkkä Tuuli', things did seem to coalesce better.

Jump forward a couple of years to their current full length 'The Child Must Die' and we have a whole new feel, the line-up, stripped down from a trio to a duo of Mika joined by Joel Robert Thompson of Olelas covering vocals with guest drums from Kol Slavv (ex Black Crown Initiate) and Mika's bandmate from Lawrence's Creation', Lawrence Wallace as guest on synths.

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The album is based around the Finnish national epic The Kalevala; ”Compiled and edited by Elias Lönnrot while he was travelling around as a district health officer in eastern Finland, which was at that time under the governance of Russia. The poem tells the story of a people, from the very beginning of the world to the introduction of Christianity and has been translated into about forty-eight languages and has been an important cultural inspiration for the people of Finland for many years."

Sound wise Nihilistinen Barbaarisuus have really upped their game this time around; there’s much more depth and richness to the sound, better vocals and more complex construction to the track overall and clearly a lot has been learnt from 'Synkkä Tuuli'. It is quite a full on onslaught from start to finish with opening track 'Wondrous Sampo' arriving like a thunderous blackened storm. There is also a huge progression in the overall delivery and production this time around.

Album title track 'The Child Must Die' has a sublime haunting guitar opener and the final closing piece 'The Night She Died' is equally so, an instrumental of clean picked guitar work which leads out beautifully.

My favourite piece of this release is the penultimate track, the haunting 'Väinämöinen' which begins on an atmospheric opener, the sound of wind, waves and subtle symphonics, before building into a crushing force of rapid black riffing and drum work. It's still intense and laced with the same vitriolic vocals found across the release but with a flow coming from those symphonics and an equally subtle folk edge. I don’t normally go for music with a folk influence but here it softens and adds texture without destroying that vital intensity.

Nihilistinen Barbaarisuus also have a new EP out, 'Madness Incarnate', and given the positive progression between these two full lengths it's well worth checking it out.

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