A member of NRVK once went on popular British quiz show Countdown and asked Carol Vorderman (it was an old-school episode) for a vowel and was told no! It obviously affected them seriously judging by their new EP release Thghtlss Lght. Reasons for missing letters aside the band who are also known as Narvik are named after a place in Norway where Robert Burås guitarist and singer songwriter from Madrugada / My Midnight Creeps lived before passing aged just 31, guitar in hand. Apparently he was a huge inspiration to this German group although they certainly don’t walk the same path musically themselves. Last album ‘Ascension To Apocalypse’ was very good indeed and one I described at the time as being “musically rich and diverse as well as extreme and uncompromising.” A play of this 2016 opus at high volume before tackling this new one proved just that as memories came flooding back of just how potent it actually was. In the meantime it would appear new blood has been incorporated into the fold joining founding members Lupus and Redeemer and judging by what we have here the group have also seriously expanded things in the song-writing department.
This may just be an EP but tracks are long and involving running at 8-9 minutes each. This is orthodox black metal but you can probably guess that due to mentions of Lilith and Ajna in the titles. There is also a feeling of the dark and mysterious and avant-garde and that is possibly due to the austere and commanding vocal approach of Redeemer who definitely adds an air of the theatrical to things. At least they got their vowels back on numbers such as ‘Shattering The Vessels’ which broods in on a bed of dark ambience and wind. We are about to descend into a dark and mysterious temple and the instruments flail in viciously and dense and foreboding melody with dictatorial vocals clamour away. There’s lots going on and the volume is raised again to hear exactly what is going on beyond the immediate folds of the musical template. You really have to concentrate as those vocals do take over with their blood red mist of lunacy, horror very much at their heart. Lilith is always a popular subject and we next descend into her womb, not without a certain amount of trepidation. It’s a violent place full of blazing columns of fire, fury and ritual. Melody is tight and oh so dark and those vocals harrowing at times with backing clamour enforcing their foul sorcery all the more. Some barbed hooks are added to the guitar playing and reel the listener in. This is dark and dangerous; there is no other way to describe it. Weaving guitars and stifling atmosphere see ‘Into the Patterns of Ajna’ unfold and continue to stomp, cleave and twist away. One gets the feeling from this material that this is a band that must be witnessed live to soak up all the blood-soaked and decaying atmosphere projected here but the psychotic strains and madness are certainly realised admirably in this form too.
There’s something very special about this EP as there was with the preceding album. Those who love a ghastly form of orthodox black metal will be in elemental delight listening to this whilst others will flee in terror from it. Slime, stink and putrid things dwell here, beware!
(8/10 Pete Woods)