Turia – Degen van Licht (2020)REVIEW

Conceived of the fourth consciousness that’d endure through waking action, dream-states, and peaceful sleep Turia represents the very persistence of natural rhythms beyond life and decay. This supreme and ever-burdened progress is incalculable and immeasurable yet its resonance is plainly observable through worship of the power of the natural world. By way of sight and sound, a perception blurred and streaked beyond the scope of geologic time’s endurance, this Amsterdam based atmospheric black metal coalition sets in the midst of winter’s cruelty a piece entirely devoted to the raging halo of Sol upon the mid-summer blazon’d mountains. ‘Degen van Licht’ is as resplendent and heated as the melting, infernal peaks it champions, calling to the distance alight from the shadows where Turia‘s finest psychedelic waves blister and smoke their way into glorious view beyond the typical perceptions that’d box-in black metal.

The braying of unpaired ravens collecting souls and mouthfuls of thawing and unfortunate traveler flesh offer the echoing ambiance of a certain treacherous altitude. There the girth of each prominence best echoes the reverberations of sound that could envelope the listener, in awe of the peak and without daring to do much more than admire the majesty therein. Such is the place of resonance where ‘Degen van Licht’ erupts from, screaming from the belly of the mountain and cascading toward valley and peak at once. The very presence and warbling depths of the production is stunning considering Turia‘s first two full-length tapes (‘Dor‘, 2015 / ‘Dede Kondre‘, 2017) would manifest within cavernous reverberation, not devoid of life but certainly bellowing with the core of the Earth in mind. Some of this change noted is certainly practical application of experience, as sound design has evolved quickly between related projects Iskandr, Solar Temple, Nusquama and their tight associations with Fluisteraars. Much of these records (including ‘Degen van Licht’) are given finishing touches by way of Greg Chandler’s Priory Recording Studios helping to really define their remarkable self-produced and mixed modern atmospheric black metal sound design.

The initial induction into ‘Degen van Licht’ should universally signal the layers of rhythm guitar and their interplay with all else as the major focus of the experience. Because of this the level of nuanced motion and psychedelic effects soaked patternation was a high I’d almost felt unworthy of examining, much like Yellow Eyes‘ ‘Rare Field Ceiling’ last year, where it’d seem they’re reaching from a pool of modern music I’ve somehow missed with such a laser focus on known realms of heavy music. This fell away like the flesh of bones with the passing of time, the voice of the guitars is so strong and captivating as it jangles and weaves its mystic surges across the span of this 47 minute record that I’d only needed to resign to its gentle forces. It’d seem there are some known lineages influencing the vibe here, be it early Drudkh‘s sweeping motions or peak Wolves in the Throne Room tonality, but the collaborative biosphere of the Amsterdam and North Holland modern black metal area are probably more important foil for Turia to have found such distinction from, or by way of. Of course my mind spins back around to the guitar tone when considering distinct factors, and this is perhaps my favorite blend of tone and reverberation since last years mini LP from labelmates Werian.

The number of twists and turns occurring within each song on ‘Degen van Licht’ is a wealth of great ideas, an outpouring of riff and stylistic spin that often feels too generous within its inspired threads. Many black metal artists could easily pull back and mete out material this rich between 2-3 full albums yet guitarist O. appears as a musician inspired by the in-the-moment dynamic flow of the music, to the point that it felt like Turia‘s third album could’ve easily spread well beyond its ~47 minute length. That said, it may be a guitar-centric production and lead by a strong flow of rhythmic ideas but I wouldn’t say this is a ‘riff’ album in the traditional sense and I wouldn’t want to downplay the importance of the vocalist or drummer as their contributions and interactions are equally vital. “Met Sterven Beboet” gives holistic voice to these descriptions first easing through its initial boost of melodic and atmospheric riffing towards an inspiring march that makes sense of the progressive and psychedelic influences that Turia generally hold close to their chests. On a surface level examination much of this could appear to be post-black metal in action but the songwriting is absolutely not as ‘genre entry’ as that would suggest. Instead I’d say the band are freed enough from the self-consciousness of conventional thought that they are willing to go far outside of norms to find the right level of expression to fit the theme of the piece. “Storm” is a fine example of this while also echoing a bit of pagan black metal austerity within its deepest rhythms. The narrative voice of the guitar within the song is more complex than that’d suggest but the feeling is nonetheless there.

So far, this has been a year of ambitious albums the feature grand finales, extended songs meant to leave a crater for a last impression and Turia have achieved this with “Ossifrage”; A 12+ minute closer that simultaneously offers the most emotive and memorable nod to dreary post-punk on the record as its first 3-4 minutes build the first few steps up their ladder of a finale. The plateau reached there is inspiring enough, still in sight of the sunlit peaks and still atmospherically charged that it might rumble right back into the start of the album if you’re so inclined to leave it all on repeat. I was, especially once I’d found myself obsessed with the guitar performances throughout the full listen. “Merode” tumbles in with such power, it brought back the sensation felt while exploring Witch Trail‘s album late last year but with much more ‘progressive’ intent through sheer variation. The suggestion of glowing hills and a breathtaking view to aspire to became a sensation felt once Turia had their hooks within me. ‘Degen van Licht’ isn’t the most ornate or grandiose piece of modern black metal I’ll come across this year but it does excel within the major goal of the project, to achieve gripping black metal music with some real resonance. This is a virtuous act that is felt and greatly appreciated — The full listen has ripened and retained its power within extensive listening, thus I am compelled to give a strong recommendation of it.

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Artist Turia
Type Full-length
Released February 14, 2020 
BUY & LISTEN on Eisenwald’s Bandcamp! Turia on Facebook
Genre Black Metal,
Atmospheric Black Metal

High recommendation. 4.0/5.0

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