Illusions in the Wake

Let me start out by saying I’ve rewritten this intro and parts of the subsequent review 3 times now. That’s what happens when I have way too much time with an album and question the articulation of my thoughts. I’m always trying to write a funny, witty, creative, suitably childish intro, and sometimes when I read one of those back, friends, even I think I should just shut the hell up and talk about the album.

With that being said, here are my thoughts on the debut release from Noltem, an atmospheric/post metal crew from Connecticut in the good ol’ USA on the incomparable Transcending Obscurity Records. With references to Panopticon in the promo materials, who released one of the best albums of the year earlier in 2021, I’m on board.

When the first track, “Figment” kicks in, it’s definitely more of an upbeat style of post black metal, at least in the music, which gives me some Deafheaven and Altar of Plagues vibes in its sort of “dream pop” atmosphere. Although, it definitely makes that new Deafheaven sound, well, let’s be honest with ourselves here. Shitty. This opener, while it sets the mood well, is over 8 minutes long. If you haven’t looked, this album is 6 tracks in a little over 40 minutes, so they’re all a bit lengthy.

If you have never been into post metal, or wonder even what the hell it is, well, it’s walking around in the forest music. For me, it’s sometimes “going on a long run” music. It’s also sometimes “put it on in the background and do something else” music.

With that being said, the title track, which is the second track, clocks in at a little less than 7 minutes, so about average for the album. While it is true that this track has the same vibe as the opener, what cannot be denied is the power with which this is played. Near the end, there are also some stringed instruments popping up in the background, which makes that Panopticon reference make sense.

The longest track on the album, at nearly 9 minutes, is track 5, and it’s called “Ruse.” This one is firmly in the “long nature walk” category as well with its subdued instrumentals outstanding dissonance, and relaxed vibe throughout.

After that, the last track, which is called “On Shores of Glass,” is one of the shortest here at just under 7 minutes, yet it has perhaps the most theatrical feel of any on display. The extended, held notes have a lot to do with this. It’s also entirely instrumental. Maybe not the best way to end an album, but definitely not bad.

To conclude my ramblings, I’ll just state that this album is a pretty good example of where post metal is at this point. While I found myself enjoying it, I’m not quite sure how often I will go back to it throughout the year.  Maybe it’s just the fact that I’m over post metal. I was hoping this would draw me back in, and that’s a big burden for any record. While there’s certainly nothing wrong with this album, and I do recommend, if you are a fan of post metal, picking this up, it’s just not where I am in my life. Maybe that’s not fair to the band, but like I mentioned above, it’s not for me. That doesn’t mean it isn’t for you.

[Visit the band's website]
Written by J Mays
September 24th, 2021


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