Downfall of Nur – Umbras E Forestas CDep Ksenza Records/ Infinite Fog Productions 2015
Ordinarily I would not review black metal releases despite having followed the arc and evolution of the genre since the early 1990’s. Downfall of Nur are something a bit different; an Argentinian 1 man band who plays furiously epic folk tinged black metal which is seamlessly blended with passages of ritual dark ambience. Although considered an ‘ep’, the 4 tracks here span 38 minutes, thus being longer than many ‘classic’ full length black metal albums.
Featuring a staunchly organic tone and the seamless weaving of forest based field recordings into the mix, the sound has a very earthy feel (..and to expand this description further, it is a tone of dank moss strewn undergrowth; devoid of light, deep under a forest canopy). In some way could draw parallels with the Cascadian Black Metal band Fauna, while other sections remind very much of the Portuguese neo-folk/ dark ambient hybrid group Karnnos. Vocals when present not a prominent element, featuring a throaty rasp which in some moments resembles the vocals of post-prison Varg (which isn’t actually a negative comment as the comparison might suggest).
Album opener ‘Sa Aurora De Sos Asatros’ sprawls out over an 11 minute expanse and through a number of segments of epically riffed to tremolo played guitars. The drums are pleasingly ‘live’ sounding in their playing with an organic edge to their production and thankfully avoiding the dreaded overproduced ‘click track’ sound. Mid track some synth use appears but is understated as a singular melody line which interweaves with and counterpoints the guitars. The second offering ‘Su Canticu de Sol Montes’ is a piece purely focused on ritual ambient spheres, where the dour echoed woodwind playing, ritual drums and ‘distant storm’ field recordings begs a particular Karnnos comparison. ‘Lunas Anthigas’ then launches headlong into a raw, furious and flailing black metal drumming storm, which maintains an epic folk edge to its riffs (mid track it recedes into a storm addled soundscape before launching back into a black metal guise). The final self-titled track includes a slight change in mood, where although the drums are still flailing in intensity, the riffs have a slightly less aggressive edge being forlornly epic in tone, whilst the second half of the track contains elements akin to a post-black metal style (…surely that description will have some black metal ‘purists’ running for the hills…).
With ‘Umbras E Forestas’ Downfall of Nur have produced a recording which displays conviction and passion and which effortlessly shifts its mood from black metal to ritual dark ambience. Not being a mere traditionalist/ copyist type band, they are managing to do something interesting within a black metal style, which to a greater degree has lost power through sheer repetition of the sound over the last decade/s.