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Nadja - Guilted by the Sun

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Artist: Nadja

Album: Guilted by the Sun

Label: Elevation

Review date: Sep. 19, 2007


Nadja - "by" (Guilted by the Sun)


For one reason or another, Nadja – the menacing and atmospheric post-metal duo composed of Aidan Baker and Leah Buckareff – haven’t garnered as much attention as their contemporaries Sunn 0))). Less overtly droney but no less crepuscular, Nadja’s music occupies a bleak nether-realm between dark ambient and balls-out metal. Maybe if they wore black robes?

Guilted By the Sun is a roiling behemoth of an EP, featuring a quaternal sectioning of songs named after each word in the disc’s title. Out for several weeks now, the record has thus far received little fanfare. This is somewhat odd, since the band’s previous release, the Alien 8-issued Touched, was a ritual chamber fave. Critics seemed to dig, too.

Guilted may not immediately distinguish itself from a bevy of similarly burnt offerings; it certainly isn’t the smudgy whirlwind of guitar noise that was Truth Becomes Death, which ranks among the most satisfying albums of its kind. But deeper listening (re: lights out, headphones on) reveals deep crevasses previously unexplored by the two adepts.

The EP sounds as though the faders were pushed to the red during the final mix and master. A layer of overdriven crust is present on each track, with the10-plus minute opener “Guilted” sounding particularly blown-out. A brusque intro of backwards guitar announces the piece, which is subsequently elbowed aside by grinding, downtuned riffs and vocals somewhere between a whisper and a scream.

Amazingly, this all-encompassing racket comes from just a couple of chords. But despite an upper mantle of distortion, the individual parts are plainly audible. Only the end of the composition achieves the inspired indistinctness of Nadja’s earlier output, as a skipping guitar part is buried under shovelfuls of chthonic drone and relentless percussion.

“By” is an exercise in Earth worship - the band, not the planet. The song’s central riff is nothing you haven’t heard before, but by maintaining a single gruesome tone, it succeeds in its mission to creep you the fuck out.

Staggered guitar stabs make “The” more compelling, as do the underlying half-step bends that feel like a plane suddenly and repeatedly dropping altitude. Might wanna keep one of those little vomit bags handy.

I’d be tempted to call the final track, “Sun,” a negative image of the opener, if the whole EP weren’t already so damn negative. There are a few breaks in the cacophony, which only makes the loud parts seem that much more severe. By song’s end, the entire mix is consumed in a vortex of anguish, a musical portrait of Milton’s angels tracing lopsided circles as they plunge toward the Pit.

More or less a lateral move, Guilted By the Sun doesn’t find Nadja breaking any new ground. They just dig their grave a few inches deeper.

By Casey Rae-Hunter

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Skin Turns to Glass

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