Nechochwen - Azimuths To The Otherworld

Azimuths To The Otherworld
Track Listing: 
  1. Allumhammochwen- The Crossing
  2. At Night May I Roam
  3. Gissis Makana
  4. Red Ocher
  5. The Eyes of The Mesingw
  6. Charnel House
  7. Graves Of Grandeur
  8. Confluence
  9. Noameatha, You Are The Ghost In The Water
  10. The Forgotten Death Ritual
  11. Hunting Among The Stars
  12. Four Effigies
  13. Azimuths to the Otherworld
  14. Graves Of Grandeur (reprise)
Rating: 
4

Nechochwen is an atmospheric blackened doom metal band that, upon first listen, don't really fall into the common category. Azimuths to the Otherworld is unlike anything most doom metal fans will have heard before. The albums opens with some tribal drumming before a spoken word passage is invoked, giving a forewarning that the music is going to be more atmospheric and spiritually focused than opting to be depressing and crushing. Then the guitars and drums come in, but they aren't long and drawn out, giving a more melodic black metal vibe with the frantic rhythm and snarled vocals. However, the grim metal side quickly disappears as the track "Gissis Mikana" gives up the goods to a very beautiful acoustic guitar passage that just enraptures the ear hole. It tends to be repetitive, but the beauty stays true all the same throughout the track.

"Red Ocher" is a mix of beauty and beast. It begins in a very similar fashion to the earlier track before the guitars and vocals roar back in. Again, they are performed in a more melodic sense than trying to overwhelm like funeral doom or other blackened doom bands can evoke. The drums are still performed in that percussive tribal fashion that keeps the atmosphere, while the vocals are a reminder that with beautiful atmosphere comes also the grim, dark side of things. An excellent contrast. As the album progresses listeners are to enjoy a lot of of the beauty than the darkness; almost every track that follows is made up of the acoustic passages that are heard on the third and fourth tracks. However, every once in a while new elements are brought in. On "Graves of Grandeur" there's a piano melody and a very subtle horn section, similar to "Hunting Among Stars." "Graves" also has a reprise at the end of the album that is heavier and sounds even better than the original acoustic version. "Confluence" has some VERY muddled whispering vocals that sound like nonsense but go well with the acoustic guitar before a much louder chant comes in when the guitars get louder, but not so loud and heavy they destroy the rhythm was was created before. "The Forgotten Death Ritual" has some Native American flute that is a pleasant surprise, but lasts less than two minutes. The title track is not unlike the fourth: repetitive in its acoustics and eventually moving into a heavier stage through electric guitars and the black metal styled vocals. It's still melodic, still beauty, and great way to end the album.

Can Azimuths of the Underworld be defined as metal? By the end of the album some may complain it wasn't heavy enough. Apparently, the band is pushing the boundaries of the genre to create their own style and create a very provocative album that makes music listeners open their minds. It's not the loudest doom metal album on the block, but it's one of the prettier ones. Fans of Kauan, Opeth, Raxa, and the Morningside will feel right at home with this.

Originally written for The Metal Forge.

Label Name: 
Bindrune Recordings