Haeresis Noviomagi Pt 1: Turia – Degen Van Licht
Checking in on the Dutch.
Haeresis Noviomagi are a collective of Dutch black metal musicians that get together in varying constellations to form a multitude of projects. Bands found under this banner so far include Turia, Fluisteraars, Lubbert Das, Iskandr, Nusquama, and probably more that I’m forgetting right now. They haven’t been at it for all too long, only appearing on the radar during the last decade, and I’ve greatly enjoyed following the various bands. We’ll be having a look at their two latest (and quite different) releases, starting today with Turia’s Degen Van Licht.
This trio made it onto my 2016 list with their last full length, Dede Kondre. I was enthralled with what they describe as “black metal stripped to its bare necessities”: agonized screams against a backdrop of lush, hypnotic guitar, all of it slathered in reverb. Degen Van Licht continues in much the same vein, but adds just enough little details and flourishes to grab my attention again after I wasn’t too taken with the split material the band released in the meantime.
After the intro, “Merode” kicks things off with a melodic lead of the kind that will be a constant companion throughout the record, moreso than I remember from the predecessor. While they only have one guitarist, the guitar often utilises two or three tracks, enabling a more sophisticated use of melody and making for a much fuller sound. It’s still far from grabbing you by the throat – they very much retain the “soft” quality that I liked about Dede Kondre – but perhaps it’s enough that the album won’t be dismissed as background music quite so easily.
Further enriching the sound are minor experiments with different instrumentation and effects. A glockenspiel pops up here and there, and the subtle transition into the third track is accompanied by what sounds like a sample of crickets. Both of these remind me a lot of Yellow Eyes, but Turia is much more subdued, distant, and cold in the atmosphere they evoke. Also new is the use of a trumpet, although it’s less prominent than the band photo might make you think, only coming up briefly in the doomy title track. “Storm” boasts clean, choral singing (which isn’t new but adds a nice splash of colour in the otherwise stark landscape), and lastly, the interlude before the big finale includes synths and a peculiarly Western-ish sounding guitar tone. None of these things will blow your socks off, but all of them make the album just that much more engaging.
Sadly, that “big finale” – the twelve-minute closer – doesn’t really add anything. I guess since the other tracks are framed by the two instrumentals, sort of secluding this one, I expected there to be some more pronounced experimentation or some other sort of spectacle. That Western guitar comes up again briefly, but apart from that, it’s business as usual, and the album just kinda fizzles out. Overall though, that’s a minor gripe. If you’re willing to sit down and listen, this is a great atmospheric black metal record – but like I said, it’s not gonna jump out at you. It’s more about sitting on the beach and watching the waves than going out and riding them.
Degen Van Licht is out now via Eisenwald.