NUBIVAGANT – Roaring Eye (2020)REVIEW

Heed the guru-ājñā, flexing freely with a painterly intuition — Evocation alone is not enough when mental images bearing personal, spiritual and psychological significance blur and bruise under pressure to submit to calculable norms. To make physical through waveform, energetic action, and compressed media an self-exploratory draining of the locus is the most profound ego-death, it belongs to the void that absorbs and leaves you with an unreal sensation of permanence. Without this realization seated in Heraclitus‘ flux in opposition a great work is impossible at any and all stages of artistry. What pushes back into the eye is the next piece to mill and extract with new and greater knowing. Doom, abyss, death and transcendence of corporeal importance writhe and wheel as tantra from the straining-wide third sight of Italian extreme metal artist Omega (Blut Aus Nord, Fides Inversa, et al.) Revelatory solemnity via epic “monotonous” droning black metal drapery crafts a meditative consciousness from simple actions as his latest solo project Nubivagant undresses its corpse of flesh. Herein ‘Roaring Eye’ is both spiritual-intellectual lineage evoked and stylistic fervency resolved unto freely floating projection, persistent and unconcerned. Nakedly and forever in a dour trance.

Originally known for his stint in Italian black metal standard Handful of Hate starting in the late 90’s the artist, whose given surname is Potenti, would eventually pick up the stage name Thorns and Omega without any specific rule given to which would be used when. Leaving that band would open many more doors for him as a drummer but I’m not here to parse out all of those acts but instead some emphasis should be given to his more singular efforts; As much as you could potentially tie in some of the performative tics found within Nubivagant‘s dream-like atmospheric black metal waft with Darvaza‘s more recent notions, technically speaking Deathrow is more or less the longest standing pillar of solitude from the musician. If we are to best understand the musician, a multi-talented and entirely self-taught fellow who primarily concerns himself with the purest intent of black metal, then let Deathrow speak to taste and identity that holds fast. What does Nubivagant accomplish, then? Well, we have the benefit of being guided by a direct walk from Darvaza‘s ‘The Silver Chalice‘ EP in 2016 (and specifically the song “The Silver Chalice”) towards the realization that some elements of this release must be developed without the attachment of established bars. What were monastic, hall-quaking chorales back then would eventually translate to singular and quite affected clean vocals in Nubivagant, some slower pacing, and yet much of the cadence is entirely kept in mind. The artist suggests it is “monotonous” in intent but in practice it is sweeping, wandering, and mournful atmospheric black metal lead by a man encapsulated via existential rupture.

Strike every possible inclination and inference from your mind. As musical expression the backing track is a form of black metal that is uncomplex and driven in ‘epic’ heavy metal tangents that are ever-streaming. Movements do nail upon themes and nuance but the sense that all songs are related and provided in meaningful succession is granted by their difficult to peg but shared motif. This is surely not the most important point of description as the clean vocals from Omega are recognizable as a perhaps unintended resemblance of Quorthon‘s somewhat untrained but passionate work beyond 1989 (excepting the thrash records), perhaps touching upon both ‘Hammerheart’ and some of the expressions found on ‘Nordland’. This is most potently realized on “One Eye Upon the Grave” where the melodic woah / woah-oh-oh breaks and the additional adornment of the central chorus feels entirely related to that Viking advent without flatly imitating or belonging to it. This feels like black metal far more than it does say, Candlemass, and has the flavor of antiquity and spirituality all the same. Beyond that point Omega‘s register doesn’t necessarily soar towards Scald‘s Agyl despite the persistent slow-to-mid pace but instead creates some similarly hypnotic centerpieces via repetition and modulated lyrical vignettes a la Urfaust.

This mixture of unbroken stylistic consciousness and unorthodox vocal work might encourage the listener to feel they’re being dipped in an avant-garde experience but unconventionality doesn’t mean these structures are anything but traditional, be they emotionally driven black metal instrumentals or soaring epic heavy metal vocals. Think of how bold and unexpectedly Bathory-esque the debut from Flamekeeper was last year and I believe there is some similar spiritual need being fulfilled between each project, not an urge to create something primal but something crafted with a personal attachment that is sincere and fulfilling to realize, even if it means breaching established mastery unto an experimental performance or nakedly different expression. The artist sustains that this suggested sincerity is a law of creation, a necessity and hard rule which cannot help but be inspiring when sat with across countless spins of this ~40 minute record. The intent of the artist is lost without the clarity of the lyrics and though they are granted to us with seeming deadpan, plenty of emotion communicates regardless of the listeners state of attention. Upon cursory listen the intensity of direct communication is yet unmistakable and, with serious engagement and meditation therein, a set of spell-like readings speak as poetry rather than prose, allowing for dimensional meaning beyond linear narrative. It is death worship, apocalyptic summons and an unmistakable yearning for something beyond mere “presence” or ritual connection.

Since I cannot treat this experience like a heavy metal record or, even a truly avant-garde extreme metal piece, the choice to recommend it as an entirety and a singular experience makes the most sense. I like it quite a bit as focused listening and meditative resonance, with that said I do believe it will be a challenging piece to engage with for most. Rather than choose any particularly buoyant pieces as ‘highlights’ or suggest one side of the LP is more than the other I would encourage folks who’ve equal interest in epic heavy metal and atmospheric black metal to see the easy passage of forms built therein with a steady and very focused hand. There are peaks and valleys, sure, but the thought is complete and uniform in hindsight; ‘Roaring Eye’ is no simple experiment of style and sound design yet it may clutch the casual listener who is hoping to catch a vibe that is darkly spirited and captivatingly persistent — Valuable ecstasy to bathe in for those prone to engage black metal with some serious analysis while still allowing for personal resonance. In my case, a redeeming experience across countless listens. A moderately high recommendation to the lowest common denominator and a much higher recommend to folks willing to immerse and dissolve in trusted hands.

Moderately high recommendation.

Rating: 8 out of 10.
TITLE:Roaring Eye
LABEL(S):Amor Fati Productions
RELEASE DATE:September 30th, 2020
BUY & LISTEN:YouTube Preview Track
GENRE(S):Epic Black Metal,
Avant-Garde Black Metal

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