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Nadja - Radiance of Shadows

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Artist: Nadja

Album: Radiance of Shadows

Label: Alien8

Review date: Dec. 4, 2007

In today’s music sphere, prolific can mean one of two things – either the band or artist is so gifted that they’re compelled to share their largess with the world, or the music itself is so damn easy to make that they could simply walk past a studio and have a new record.

For Nadja, the creatively fertile post-metal/doom duo from Montreal, it’s the former. 2007 has seen the band produce several full-length albums and an EP, yet the quality of each release remains high. This is especially impressive considering the band’s robustly oppressive music affords less room to maneuver than other strains of experimental heavy. It’s not like you’re gonna hear timpani or mellotron on a Nadja release – just the Justin Broderick/Godflesh-inspired array of distorto guitars, subsonic bass, drum machine, washed out keyboards and the occasional shoegazed vocal.

A formula, perhaps, but in Nadja’s case, one that still has legs. The band’s latest long-player, Radiance of Shadows, finds the duo scaling Lovcraftian peaks of oversized terror in pursuit of an unfathomable union of beauty and barbarousness. Commanding, encompassing and occasionally savage, the album employs all of the band’s hallmarks: sinewy strands of guitar layered beyond individual recognition, errant yet powerful percussion and an unconstrained but no less purposeful sense of buildup. Whereas other doom purveyors show restraint in tempo and texture, Nadja borrow a page from the black metal playbook, creating charcoal smudges of primal intensity. But even in full assault mode, they evince exquisiteness and grandeur. Much like Pacific Northwest blacksmiths Wolves In the Throne Room, Nadja’s skull-crushing escapades are as terrible and awe-inspiring as nature itself.

Nadja records are short on song titles, but long in musical movements. Radiance is split into three suites: “Now I am Become Death, the Destroyer of Worlds,” “I Have Tasted the Fire Inside Your Mouth” and “Radiance of Shadows.” Each hits like a velveteen fist, with moments of spatial sonorousness matched by molasses grind and monumentally misshapen riffs.

Of the three, cuts, “I Have Tasted the Fire Inside Your Mouth” most fully illustrates the depth of Nadja’s talents. Ambience and brutality are each allowed the space to unfold like malevolent musical fractals. And the quieter sections are no less gripping than the blast-outs; rarely has finesse and fury found such equanimity. Many bands have employed the “loud-quiet” dynamic, but Nadja exploit the contrast to its gripping fullest.

It’s hard to imagine the group getting much more mileage out of their long black limousine, but I’ve already heard the follow-up to Radiance of Shadows, and can testify to Nadja’s continued eminence. That they release so many records proves that there are still plenty of roadside attractions on the highway to hell.

By Casey Rae-Hunter

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