Numen have apparently been on the go since 1997 but it’s been twelve years since their last recording so maybe a new start then. They hail from the Basque Country and that title up there is in their native language as are all the songs so I’ll be no help on the subject matter I’m afraid. The PR suggests it’s all about their home lands and the dark past though.
So. Well they certainly hit you full on in the face as a greeting; ‘Iluntasuna Soilik’ tears off with an Emperor style undulating, hard and icy riff. It’s a good sound on the whole, some great varied vocals and a fast riffing sound. Yeah the drums have one of my pet hates; a snare so hard it makes Hellhammer’s sound like a deep echoing cave, but the actual playing is excellent. ‘Lautada Izoztuetan’ carries on in the same vein; fast, precise and dark with some touches of Norwegian style melody but with a hint of dark folk melody creeping in which really helps. The quiet fade out begins to wrap a little atmosphere around the scene too. ‘Pairamena’ slows the breakneck pace initially but keeps to the established style, pretty much as does the next: Orthodox Norwegian style riffing with just a hint, a suggestion of folk melody.
Things begin to blur a bit at this point I’m afraid. It’s all good, solid, aggressive stuff but save for the language it could be from anywhere, cut from the orthodox template with precision. Right up until the breakdown in ‘Nire Arnasean Biziko De Gaua’ where the folk feel finally forces its way to the fore for a while and it’s like a blaze of light in the dark. From then on even when it plunges back into the speed riffs it seems to carry more presence. ‘Itzaletan Solasean’ is a much more tempo varied affair, with significant sparse passages carrying an eerie, haunted feel which works well. The same with the latter part of ‘Irageneko Erratsak’ which is reminiscent of very early …In The Woods. ‘Itzaltzuko Bardoari’ flickers by crackling flames into a medieval/folk acoustic number with spoken vocals which frankly is wonderful.
I don’t know. It seems to me here that too much of Numen’s national touch and love of folk is buried beneath the orthodoxy. When you hear it, the songs burst in to life but without it this album is simply well played black metal.
Well worth a listen but I’d love to hear them lean more on the roots they so clearly want to celebrate.