Nadja – Labyrinthine (Review)

Nadja - LabyrinthineThis is the latest release from Nadja, a doom/drone duo from Canada.

Nadja are a great band, (make sure you check out the stunning Sv), and they have an astonishing amount of releases under their belt. This latest one is something a little exceptional though, as the normally largely instrumental duo have recruited a different vocalist for each of the colossal four songs that make up this 63-minute album.

The opening title track features the legendary vocalist of Khanate/Gnaw, and is a nightmarish soundscape of bleak apocalyptic sounds and industrial horror. I’ve been a big fan of the singer’s needle-thin shrieks for many years and it’s great to hear him tear his throat to shreds while accompanied by the raw buzzing menace of Nadja’s sludge doom cacophony.

Rue is somewhat of the outlier on the album, as it is the least threatening and most beautiful of the four tracks. The singer is from Esben & the Witch, who I am unfamiliar with. Her voice is rich and luscious, and she brings an emotive colour to Nadja’s music which is rarely encountered. I haven’t heard her sing before this song, but I like what I hear very much. Rue is atmospheric and immersive. It gradually unfolds with measured patience and inexorable presence, building to an unexpectedly noisy and harsh conclusion.

The singer on the next track Blurred is also one I’m unfamiliar with. She’s from Elizabeth Colour Wheel, and her voice complements the music’s gloomy, feedback-enhanced doom perfectly. Her voice is piercing and eerie, and coupled with the sinister music it’s almost like she’s being used as a herald for something dark, inexplicable, and unknowable that’s slowly entering our reality.

The final song is the longest, and boasts the formidable talents of the Full of Hell vocalist. Necroausterity is all lurching malevolence and rhythmic terror. It’s a track that pulls you in, hypnotic in its malicious pulse, and gripping in its stalking cadence. It’s an absolutely torturous slab of serrated dread and irregular unease; it’s just great.

All four of these songs are worth the price of admission alone, and taken together Labyrinthine is another stellar release from Nadja, one of their best. It is always a pleasure to hear this act’s material, but this is especially the case here as they are doing something different with their sound. It’s unmistakably Nadja, but also something else too.

Essential listening for any fan of doom and drone.

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