Review: Nusquama – Horizon Ontheemt (Eisenwald, Mar 22)

What was it Tenacious D said? “You don’t always have to play black metal hard… I’m gonna blast softly”? Yeah, that sounds right.

Not that Horizon Ontheemt is a “soft” album. Nusquama, a new quintet comprised of musicians from bands such as Laster, Northward, and Turia, have plenty of aggression and anger to expend, and—coupled with all five members’ superb musicianship—that makes for an intense and emotionally draining journey. But still, there is a beautiful frailty to these fluid compositions, even when the band is at its most structured and rhythmic. The guitars are swathed in threadbare blankets of incorporeal effects, allowing them to enshroud and float above the other instruments to evoke space and atmosphere. They’re often tempered by the earthy punch of the drums, which somewhat frequently relegate the rhythmic backbone to more grounded beats, but when the blast beats set in the band’s true ear for textural transcendence is revealed. Every tremolo chord, every snare hit, every agonized wail is delivered with exactly the right amount of power, just enough to establish presence but not so much that anything distracts from the gorgeous maelstroms of unified sound created by a group of artists who it seems couldn’t compliment each other any better. Horizon Ontheemt isn’t even 40 minutes, but it’s a giant of a record, a giant with its feet on the ground but its head and shoulders in the clouds.

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