Nihilistinen Barbaarisuus
The Child Must Die

Despite the founder Mika Mage originally hailing from Finland, Finnish moniker and album based on the Kalevala poems, Nihilistinen Barbaarisuus hails from deepest , darkest Philadelphia and  have ties with some other USBM bands such as Shadow in the Crypt and others.

However, despite a real, honest attempt at early 90s European symphonic black metal, the album falls a bit short but only due to the actual song writing.  However, the atmospheres, delivery and overall presentation certainly imbues the likes of Emperor, Arthemesia, Dimmu Borgir, Cradle of Filth and such in their formative more, raw stages.

The guitar tone is primal and frosty, the bass is distant, the vocals are a harsh rasp with a few bellows  and there is some moments of brief restraint and ambiance, but main element of the music is the sweeping, often overbearing keyboards . Now, more often than not, I love keyboards and symphonic black metal is one of my favorite genres….. when done right. Nihilistinen Barbaarisuus comes close, but there is a weird dichotomy between a more chaotic, raw first wave sound and the over blown symphonics and theatrics  of a more lavish style, and they don’t quite jive together.

Don’t get me wrong, the album is not bad, it just does not seem to fully click, and this is from someone who generally gushes over anything with keyboards. They sometimes have a more  subtle, sweeping majestic aura such as the close out of “Feast of the North Farm”, but more often than not they have a more chaotic, ‘there for the sake of being there’ presence such as following track “Amidst the Waves” or opener “Wondrous Sampo” . Plus there’s just a very ….synthetic, plastic atmosphere to the whole sound, I imagine, a by product of a two man international project with some session musicians helping out. For example, the drums sound programmed, though are not and the synths are just a bit too Casio-ish for me.

Still, there is some promise here, and occasionally Mage hits on something that gets my attention such as the shorter title track or less chaotic “Väinämöinen” and the album’s brevity hits a sweet spot. I get the sense Mage is passionate and driven, and won’t let negative reviews get him down, so I actually look forward to his next efforts to see if he can deliver some symphonic black metal more worthy of his heritage.

[Visit the band's website]
Written by E. Thomas
January 15th, 2016

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