Novae Militiae - Topheth review

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Band: Novae Militiae
Album: Topheth
Release date: September 2020

01. Towards The Sitra Achra
02. Advent Of The Prophet
03. Faithfully Reduced To Ashes
04. The Call Of Aeshma
05. Elevated To Him
06. Affliction Of The Divine
07. The Tables Of Revelations
08. A.R.F.A.

Remember when black metal used to be about Satan?

Black metal has had its ups and downs and while a good chunk of it stayed orthodox, a lot of it sprawled and merged with other sounds and genres. Some more melodic, some more extreme, some more exotic. So for a black metal album to stick to its orthodox style, it must either be uninspired or devoted. Seeing as to how Novae Militiae's Gash'khalah was one of the ugliest and most unrelenting that I've heard black metal become lately without merging with either industrial, noise, drone, grind, death or thrash, I was expecting to be even more amazed with Topheth. And Topheth doesn't stray that far, but it certainly is no cookie cutter follow up.

And indeed, France has had a history with dissonance, and it's impossible to talk about dissonant black metal, especially of the French variety, without mentioning Deathspell Omega. And while Gash'khalah felt more Antaeus than Deathspell Omega, Topheth slides a bit more towards the latter. It's less "ugly" and uninviting. But then again, Gash'khalah also knew how to use a bit of ambiance and cold industrial feel and choirs and the like without leaving its orthodox territories, it's just that Topheth plays that card more. Even the cover art, while maintaining its red and religious aesthetic, it's more evocative and abstract than the clear figures of the demo and the debut, the figures in this one are either multiplied and blurred, or that Eye-Of-Sauron one in the middle. But that's ironic, because this one feels less abstract and more direct.

Though the overall sound is dissonant and distorted, and definitely quite raw, I wouldn't call it murky or mangled, as each of the instrument is quite clearly audible in the mix. Though vocals and drums are clearly favored, the former being on the lower spectrum instead of the usual shrieks, and the latter at times giving it a bit of a cold mechanic feeling. The guitars are still focused just enough on the riffs and the tremolo-picking to create some dynamic sense. But at its core, it's still a dense surge of evil-sounding drowning atmosphere. And even if Topheth feels just a bit more direct and melodic than its predecessor, it didn't lose its evocative feeling, and it would be hard to imagine something to fit this album's cover art without delving into generic unintentional parody. Novae Militiae manage to make orthodox black metal with religious themes that doesn't feel like nor laughable nor like a relic of the past. It is instead a reminder of why black metal has always been fascinated with evil, and why it was the most fit to be so.

In the end, Novae Militiae might've made Topheth a more appealing album than they might've intended to, in their kvltish ways, but otherwise they wouldn't have made it so likeable.


Written on 22.09.2020 by My opinion is objective, sorry if you don't agree, but you're wrong.


Comments: 2   Visited by: 52 users
22.09.2020 - 17:15
Solid review! Something about these vague and slightly uninspired album covers interest me. I will be checking this one out.
22.09.2020 - 19:10
It was good, but I found myself getting bored a few songs before it was finished

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