Masters of Atmosphere
There is the sound of rituals. The low vibration of big drums tapped ever so carefully, so rhythmically in cavernous rooms. There is the cold otherworldly coos of something luring one closer to its realms. The drums beat on and on, ceaselessly, hypnotically, bringing the occult ever nearer to this world, so carefully balanced between the tangible and ethereal planes. On Beyond Life and Death, NOÊTA perform a ritual, a rite, an unholy summoning.
The first song is, as described above, slow, plodding and ritualistic in atmosphere. The recording seems to take place in some sort of cave or otherwise massive and open structure where the drums and chanting can echo back in on themselves over and over, blending into a thick reverberating haze. The second song on the album, “In Drowning,” is slightly more traditional, rather reminiscent of the pluckier sections of some doom metal or post rock tracks. A middle, high-pitched droning whirrs behind the main vocals and guitar to create an unsettling atmospheric effect, keeping well in line with the established feel of the record. Next is standout track “Darkest Desires,” which carries over the steady drums from the first album but clears up the vocals to allow for greater lyrical impact. Most importantly, the track features a slow but engaging guitar line that pushes the generally plodding album forward with an unshakeable and persistent pace. The vocals on this song are also extremely engaging as the singer begins to push into a slightly more dynamic range.
Unfortunately, as is often the case with these types of records, the biggest strength of this album is tied directly to its greatest weakness. This is to say that it’s strong identity often overpowers the listener and fails to provide adequate variance within the album. Fortunately, there are a few moments, like “Beyond Death” and “Darkest Desires,” that serve to break up some of the monotony that is often a tad too pervasive. Besides, it is typically better to have a decent, consistent album than one that is far too scattered. This ritual may run long at times, but it is worth it for the near peerless exercise in atmosphere creation.