Thursday, December 30, 2010

Music Review - Noumena - Absence

This album has quickly grown to become one of my favorite melodeath albums; the best way I can describe the sound on this CD would be that it's nearly a perfect blend of Kalmah and Insomnium, but with less aggression and a more relaxed/folk feel than either band.

Catchy riffs reigns supreme here; from heavy anthems like "A Day to Depart," with it's brilliant chorus; or more laid back, folky songs like "Everlasting Ward," every riff and melody is top notch and expertly crafted to create a general dark, mournful and bleak soundscape. The guitars sound great, heavy and crunchy and while there aren't a lot of solos here the constant leads more than make up for that; the drums keep to the mostly mid-to-slow range and tend to stay on the simple side, so don't expect any jaw-dropping fills or lightning fast blast beats. The bass is quite audible, providing a good heavy low end, but not really doing anything spectacular. It has a terrific, fat sound that's mixed in with the rest of the instruments perfectly though, which redeems its slightly uninteresting performance.

The vocals here range from deep, throaty growls to decent male clean vocals to female clean vocals in the track "Slain Memories," and all three are used flawlessly and really add to the songs. In fact, I'd say the use of clean vocals here are some of the better I've heard in the genre; there's no out of place moments for any of the clean vocals.

This album has a terrific atmosphere which I can only compare to Insomnium when they are at their most dark and folk sounding; while the atmosphere here isn't really depressing it is certainly very dark and has a genuine folk feeling, without any real folk instruments being used. During the more softer bits of the album I'm actually reminded of Agalloch; there's that same forlorn feel throughout the whole album.

There's not much I can really complain about here; there is a lot of variety in the songs and no two really sound alike. There may be weaker moments here and there, like the closing track "The Great Anonymous Doom," which doesn't quite grab me as much as the rest of the album did, but really there's nothing else here I don't like.

Noumena have shown with this album they can stand with some of the best in the genre and even at times surpass them. For fans of more relaxed, folk influenced, atmospheric melodeath in the vein of Insomium, I highly, highly recommend this album.

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