Noltem – Hymn of the Wood

noltem_052206_hymnI don’t know if this is the result of a shaky dub (this is a cassette release), but there is a slight wavering in this recording and overall lack of sharpness in the sound spectrum that does bother me, but it’s not enough to take away from the pagan spirit this music so effectively emulates. Connecticut’s Noltem creates an adventurous mix where epic black metal meets paganism and folk tendencies. The acoustic guitar is by far the most dominant and emotive instrument on this short 3 song demo, but it is quite a welcomed addition and inspiring how sole member M. Johnson weaves this element in with the core Graveland meets Agalloch aesthetic that resides within his expansive songwriting style. Traditional folk scales offer a strong sense of refreshing and lighthearted movement in this music, which then easily falls out of the ancient hoe down vibe, into more classical based moments of depression. When the black metal element finally comes into action, a clean bass tone can easily be heard and the separate lines tend to add a thickening foundation for melodically dissonant riff ideas to summon the woodland atmosphere. Speed is never a factor and this music seems to benefit because of it. M. Johnson allows himself to take his time with each composition rather than rush to the next blast beat and see all his ideas through to the end – even build upon them with the occasional synth voice, or accompanying acoustic guitar line added for flavor. The vocals are perhaps the weakest link on Hymn of the Woods. Even though the black metal rasp suits this music perfectly, he possesses a rather thin delivery. I like the overall placement of the lyrical ideas and his performance certainly isn’t terrible, but it would be nice to hear the same level of dimension and development found in the music the vocals are attempting to empower. Since there really aren’t a lot of vocals in this material, perhaps he realizes his strong points and writes to cater to them. “Hymn of the Wood” was a pleasant surprise with its warm compositions and bold sense of cross genre experimentation. Noltem certainly isn’t reinventing the wheel, but the songs are solid and imaginative. Looking forward to hearing what lies in store for this one man project. -Marty
74 Hog Hill Road, East Hampton, CT 06424 USA

~ by martyworm on January 3, 2009.

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