Ukrainian band Nonsun release their second full-length doom album, Blood & Spirit.
From Lviv, Ukraine, Nonsun has been creating doom metal for more than ten years. The musicians go by Goatooth (guitar, keys, vocals), Alex (bass), and Alpha (drums), and they have released a couple of EPs plus the full-length album Black Snow Desert (2016/18). Recorded over several months from 2017-2020, the new album, Blood & Spirit, covers fresh ground while maintaining the basic principles the band has established in their earlier work.
Regarding the new music, the band remarks, “The album title refers to spiritual struggles through the bloodiest of times. The five tracks, in a sense, are yearnings, or prayers, thrown into the void. What doesn’t kill you… Does it make you stronger? Or leave you even more crippled? When all magic is gone… Is wisdom worth a thing? It’s about raising questions rather than giving answers. As the rational mind [and] willpower fail, a spiritual quest begins.”
Most tracks are over ten minutes long; the shortest nears eight. Each has its own identity and exists alone. “A Wizard Grieving Over the Loss of Magic” opens the set with beautiful, quiet longing. Even when the guitars drop, the powerful wave of sound is still beautiful. The piece is moody, and reflective, demonstrating musical notions that match perfectly the emotions of the character in the title. In “That Which Does Not Kill” the sounds are dire at the front, dripping dread and fiery warning and signaling a manifest catastrophe. You might see a glimmer of light toward the end, but you would have to be an optimist to make it out.
“Days of Thunder Bring New Wisdom” offers extended moments of mantra-like refrain. Toward the middle there is chaos and confusion, followed by a long march out. “Guilt, Disgust, Disaster” strikes a surprisingly buoyant tone at the start that becomes terribly serious and regretful. Later in the song, the music is positively frightening. There is a sort of serenity that is reached near the end, but it has come at a cost.
The final song is “In Your Eyes I’m a Cripple.” To my ears, this music is the saddest of all. The quietude is no respite and I welcomed the louder, more active passages. It is a fitting end to this excellent set. Doom fans and those who appreciate touches of avant-garde and post-metal will find treasures here. Recommended.
Blood & Spirit is out on Friday, April 15th on digital at Bandcamp and elsewhere. A vinyl version is being released through Dunk!records. On the band’s Bandcamp page, they write: Please consider supporting Ukraine in these dire times: standforukraine.com and linktr.ee/HowToHelpUkraine2022
© Wayne Edwards.