Most of the time when we get things from the Quebec region of Canada it is the areas own authentic take on black metal. This time however it’s doom and its death all in one slab. The band have even gone to partly distance themselves from their own environment by naming themselves after Siberia’s Northernmost city. One has to wonder if home is not quite cold enough for them and if they pop out through Quebec’s snow blizzards in shirt sleeves and flip-flops shouting out to the heavens the words “come on is that all you’ve got?” Subject matter are themes of “darkness, isolation, identity, archaism and persistence” we are told, it’s enough to send a shiver down the spine just reading about it all.
Musically this debut album is rather a dense experience with a lot of ideas and uniqueness about it, with each of the eight tracks having a fair sense of separate identity about them. ‘Jupitus’ chugs in and is quite loose sounding with some clamouring guitar cadences that would not have been out of place on a Godflesh number. It limbers up and gets into a groove that has you solidly nodding your head before the gruff and rugged vocals of Nicolas Miquelon (who apart from drums and backing vocals pretty much handles everything here) come in, naturally in French. It’s a pretty solid banger of a number and a good introduction, some whispered vocals add to it and stylistically it has elements far beyond mere doom itself. ‘Planete Heurt’s’ impact event sees things slowing to a crawl much more in the doom remit with vocals gravid and matching the pace. Some clean and harmonious vocals add to things and this is a much more traditional take on things and what one may have expected the album on a whole to sound like. I am glad that it isn’t all like this though as a near hours-worth of things at this leaden pace would be a bit difficult to get to grips with. The track does pick up with some wild flurrying guitar work, it’s definitely all designed to keep the listener on their toes.
It gets even more strange on ‘Throa’ with some near acoustic folky guitar work that could be straight off something by Drudkh. There’s a bit of a barbarian stomp about this and the next number that along with the grizzly vocals remains me of something from Eastern Europe in the vein of bands like Obtest perhaps, it certainly isn’t what was expected. ‘Nature Morte’ as title suggests moves from swaggering bravado to doomy gloom as a mid-album interlude that’s acoustic with whispering eerie vocals and leading perfectly into the downbeat slow dirge of ‘Postadam Glo.’ The title track is full of atmosphere with some stellar riffing putting a hint of post black metal on things but despite all the disparate elements on the album after a couple of head scratching listens on the whole it all gels together and takes a hold.
Backed up with an odd bonus track and excellent artwork Hypnotic Dirge have again lived up to their name finding a bit of an oddity in Norilsk. It may confound those listeners that are rigid in the way they listen to their doom but for those that are more forward thinking it’s definitely worth seeking out.
(7.5/10 Pete Woods)