Friday, June 8, 2012

Wendess - Nuee Noire

Wendess return with a new flood of material, raked together to form a new album, Nuee Noire. I reviewed Wendess' original album in Contaminated Tones Zine #1. It was an atmosphere heavy, patient introduction to a band that I felt would continue to coalesce and create it's own style. Elements of that first release appear once again on these new five tracks. The airy-ness of the self titled album reappears to great effect, now completely realized and mature. So while the amateur wings of Wendess were enough to lift the listener into the sky on the first release, there was a shaky quality that reminded me of the small "cityhopper" planes I used while touring Germany. They worked but I didn't know if I could entirely trust their construction. Still it was a strong first effort and tracks such as "Par Le Dent" and the intense "8913" rounded out a strong first effort.

Nuee Noire picks up where Wendess left off - with the airy, spacious atmosphere one is accustomed to these days with bands like Agalloch and Alcest and such riding the forgotten influences of bands like Empyrium and Arckanum into the dust. Hordes of new recruits to Black Metal worship every particle of dust Drudkh's sound waves vibrate, every fiber that resonates with Wolves in the Throne Room's menacing noise and every second that some new band can suck from their life with redundancy and repetitive wanderings. I've heard few Black Metal bands in recent years that portray the feeling that their music is more than what they say it is. Nuee Noire grows closer to that final ridge and leans over gracefully, peering down into an abyss that many are afraid to cross, a canyon which, once entered, one must within thrive without any hope of reversing course. I can't say that Wendess have taken that plunge just yet but the feeling that they want to is there.

They have drifted out of the pastoral setting that was hinted at on Wendess. Nuee Noire is way grittier than the first EP as evidenced by the opening minute of the twofer opening track, "Intro & Seroquel." Hints of disharmony twisted into an endearing form are layered across more traditional Black Metal stylings.  In this particular track the introductory section and Seroquel section are separated by a fermenting ambiance, drifting between dream and nightmare. Wendess like to wander the dreamscapes of myriad emotional states. The melodies can mean anything to the listener, of course, however it is hard to describe them jovially. Most of this album is blessed with a profound attempt to create bleak introverted depression. The album also has no interest in rushing the torture. Four of the five songs are over ten minutes long, three are over fourteen minutes long. The terminology behind the concept of an LP truly has meaning here. At times, I would wager that most would agree that the songs meander. While this is generally a good thing for background music, I also fell asleep on several occasions while trying to actually listen to the whole thing in it's entirety. Luckily, the ride home from Maryland Deathfest was an excellent opportunity to finally do proper reconnaissance on Nuee Noire.

Wendess have a knack for tonality. Every tone is beautiful especially the clean guitars which are a common element and are used often to transition between motifs. This is an area where Wendess are way more enlightened than others. They are able to change tonality of instruments in sections without affecting the flow of a song or sounding out of place. How often do I hear bands break into sections with effects on the instruments that sound downright foreign to anything else in the vicinity. Black Metal has no need for tonal tourism on the part of post-production experimentation. When the listener finally gets to the second track, "Xanax," a palindrome that is not reflected in the structure of the song, I think it would be prudent to expect an intense, eight-hundred beat-per-minute blast fest to break up the tempo (the band most likely have the talent to do so) but instead they continue on with their intent to create their album. "Xanax" utilizes the above mentioned clean guitars to full potential and truly hearkens back not to contemporaries but to albums such as Where At Night the Wood Grouse Plays. Wendess do add their own life to the style and omit the wonderfully powerful clean vocals.

It is the third track where Wendess make their blackened stand. "8915" is similar to "8913" on their self titled, but instead of being one and a half minutes, we get ten times that much material to weather. It is a storm. The most intense of the tracks available on the release. It also presents the biggest adjustment that I can notice between the two albums other than general songcraft. Vocally, there is a HUGE improvement on this album. I felt the vocals on the previous offering were the weak point. They retained a pre-pubescent lack of confidence. They were caught somewhere between being Black Metal and being metalcore. The vocals here sound more like what comes out of tape player when Eindig's Doodshcrift is inserted for prime enjoyment. Admittedly, they are better but not yet to the point to fawn over. And while "8915," at one point sounds like Dick Dale - which is awesome - it also once again fades away into more unnecessary sections as well with additional clean guitars. At times I think it would be beneficial to make several smaller songs. It takes a certain amount of commitment to listen to a fifteen minute song.

On that note, fourth track "Lithium" goes a full eight minutes without any kind of heavy distortion and by this time, when the distortion does kick in, I don't even remember what came before it. Once again, a lot of great ideas and great melodies but without the concentration of a Buddhist monk, I just don't know how effective it all is from the standpoint of composition. I guess the moral of the story is that by the last track, I'm depleted a bit. The slow, atmospherics of the last track, simply titled "Outro," is definitely enough to force me to need to move around and get my blood moving to avoid passing out.  If Wendess can find a way to maintain listenability of the album, from beginning to end, and maintain the listeners attention, there should be no problem of the band becoming a well known name in the modern day Black Metal scene. Their propensity for long, drawn out compositions which sound almost like entire jam-sessions could work in their favor or against them if they can find a way to control it. I also don't quite understand the reasoning for ending "Outro" with the same variation/section/rhythm as the intro on their self titled release. It seems far fetched that anyone would recognize that after falling asleep halfway through "8915."

The lack of physical availability of this release is disheartening. It deserves some sort of physical release. Apparently Self Mutilation Services has released a physical copy but with no distribution I doubt there will be much product movement.

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