French Canadian Duo Norilsk have followed 2015’s “The Idea of North” with 8 slabs of doom death by the name of “Le Passage des Glaciers” Norilsk is the most northern city in Siberia and allegedly home to a heavy metal smelting plant. That gives you an idea of the sound these guys set out to create.
Think early Paradise Lost or Anathema. Guttural French vocals over crystal clear guitars and heavy as merde bass riffs. Into “Midnight Suns” pulls the listener in like an icy swamp before first song proper “Le puits de l’oubli” (The well of Oblivion). This is a plodder not a fighter. Part way through there is a guitar solo that sounds like a ZX spectrum game loading up. Gah make it stop! Luckily it does and the remainder is a pleasant dark slab of melancholy.
“Namolennya” puts the brakes on even further and drops the morose levels by a hefty chunk as a sombre serving of funeral doom oozes from my speakers. Just as I begin to slow nod into oblivion it takes a sudden lurch and returns from flat lining to a mid-paced rocker.
The slothful pace of its predecessor makes “La voie des morts” sound like a punk number. In fact there are elements of Siouxsie and the Banshees here along with PL featuring as it does a great gothic bassline and a dramatic guitar ring out.
The Goth is dialled up further on “Ghost of Loss (Passage pt I) with clean spoken English parts alongside big macabre riffs that swoop like a caped figure down a stone staircase. There is a fullness to the sound here. A lot is going on but Norilsk avoid a sonic jumble and create a powerful sense of atmosphere. The band return to their native Quebecois with “Noircur Interieure” which has a great groove spoiled slightly by another grating guitar solo which sounds slightly off key and threw me off kilter.
“L’erosion (passage pt II) lopes in on leaden feet like a Golem and just like the Jewish legend it carries me away. Willingly I go lifted high by its lumbering riffs and gothic melody.
“Ellesmere” is a poetic outro that suits an album of this type. The passage of glaciers is certainly a cold and daunting one. It is easy to get lost sometimes in its arctic paths but there is plenty to experience in the clear blue briny permafrost to keep me returning.
(7/10 Matt Mason)