Review: Nagaarum – Apples

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Nagaarum is a one-person Hungarian experimental ambient metal project that has been around for a decade and has now put out a staggering 17 albums with the release of Apples. The eponymous Nagaarum takes care of all the composition and plays more or less every instrument and takes care of all male vocals. Aside from a session narrator and a session female vocalist, everything here is the work and vision of one person, so the ambition and complexity is incredible.

Nagaarum’s command of texture is incredible, with the intro track, “Middle Age,” lulling you into a meditative state with ticking clocks and ambient noise before we’re brought into “Isaac,” the track that really tells you what Apples is all about. This is a concept album following a story built around three prominent scientists and thinkers: Isaac Newton, Robert Hooke, and Edmond Halley.

There are narrative sections and ambient interludes to tie everything all together and there’s an extremely wide range of styles showcased and combined to keep things interesting. “Prism” chugs along back and forth between an older-sounding progressive style and heavier black metal-influenced sections.

Nagaarum’s use of analog synthesizers over digital or even emulated analog are part of what makes these ambient sections so appealing. The variety of floating textures achieved add to the music without distracting, and also mix in some ‘70s flavor to create a nice juxtaposition to the more modern styles.

“Robert” is heavy as hell, slamming into you with roaring black metal immediately after a narrator tells Newton he will never be a scientist. Unfortunately, the middle of this track is where the first hints show up of this album feeling a little bit bloated.

“Edmond” ramps things back up, featuring vocals by Betty V. Loops and delays create a sort of “round” effect for both the vocals and guitars. “New Tone” features some of the most interesting sounds and composition, with jaw harp, an already fairly distorted instrument, that sounds like it was put through a filter as it was recorded, and then crunchy guitar, then the combination of everything back into an ambient sound, but a darker, grittier ambience.

Apples runs the span of 12 tracks, altogether adding up to almost 70 minutes. The composition on this record is great throughout, don’t get me wrong, but maybe after “Robert” get up for a few minutes, have a cup of tea and then come back. Apples is worth listening to the entire thing, but give yourself an intermission for this one.

Apples is out now through Aesthetic Death and NGC Productions

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