Mankind has probably always been in awe of mountains, but only relatively recently have we started really exploring them. Only 300 years ago, mountaineering, or visiting the Earth’s peaks for recreational purposes, was unheard of.  Before the 18th century, mountains were associated with the supernatural, with religious concepts, they were considered to be the dwelling places of gods and spirits, they induced fear, they were not sought out.

In the past, people mostly stayed clear of mountains. Everyday life bore enough hardships, there was no motivation to seek out additional challenges, to visit an unhospitable, even life-threatening environment.

Today, the situation is completely different. People go to great, mindboggling lengths to climb up the Earth’s mountains, and they gladly take on the dangers that mountaineering carries. The majority is motivated by the challenge, they want to get close to nature, not the tamed, urban kind, they want to experience what it is like to survive in the wild, to get as close as possible to death without dying.

And the mountains are where Turia, an emerging black metal band from the Netherlands, are taking us. The sonic journey that is their new album Degen van Licht lets you visualize an Alpine scenery and experience it, along with its possible dangers. Because the journey is not a comfortable one. It is not the guided tour to the Himalayas Western managers, clad in high-tech clothing, pay small fortunes for. It is a journey to the beginnings of mountaineering, a journey that explores mountain landscapes with a beginner’s mind and without sophisticated equipment.

On Degen van Licht you will hear pristine, breath-taking coldness. You will hear the wind, the shrieks of birds of prey, and the water. Fast drumming and tremolo picked guitars simulate torrents of water cascading down mountainsides in the spring when the snow melts. You will hear the clear view and the panorama. You will hear a yearning for the hights. But you will also hear the tormented screams of a person lost on the mountain, screaming against the wind and the elements.

A good starting point to acquaint yourself with theme and sound is the video to the pre-released track Storm. Soundwise, Degen van Licht is rather old-school black metal. If you like Bathory, you will like Turia.

The video to Storm features old, grainy shots of mountain landscapes. The people in them are small and insignificant, like ants or insects. While all visual materials, including the album cover, have an air of times past, the scenes explored might soon become our new reality. Climate change might reverse our comfortable Western existence sooner than we think. Just like the Earth’s hights, other regions might get inhospitable, and in the end the earth will get rid of the parasite that is mankind.

A very rewarding and aware black metal album absolutely worth your time and your money.

(8.5/10 Slavica)