|Cover art by R. Jonsson|
After peaking underground atmospheric black metal fans interest with a couple of well-received demos in 2003 and 2004, Nasheim finally released their debut full length in 2014. Solens Vemod, or "the sun’s sadness" for us English speakers, is a perfect title for the Swedes’ first album, as beautiful yet melancholic guitar lines break through the darkness like fleeting rays of sunlight at dusk. While Nasheim’s take on atmospheric black metal is not ground breaking, their ability to create captivating and haunting songs help to set them apart from the thousands of bands playing this type of music.
The opening track, “En nyckel till drömmars grind,” sets the tone for the rest of the album. Kicking off with a haunting, mournful riff that slowly sucks the listener into Nasheim’s gloomy world. The band employs a very delicate touch to their songwriting as the music drifts along like a gentle mist propelled by the wind. Wonderfully crafted bass lines float in and out of the fairly traditional arpeggios and tremolo riffs, adding texture and intrigue to the music. The programmed drums, while nothing spectacular, work well to help create the engrossing atmosphere that albums like this live and die by.
While the songwriting is beautiful and expertly crafted, the real star here is the magnificent vocal performance put forth by Erik Grahn. It is the vocals that really drive the music forward and give it power and emotion. Erik uses an exquisite variety of grim yet captivating screams and despondent cleans. It is extremely rare to hear a vocalist so adept at blending these two disparate techniques. Not once do either style sound out of place or forced in any way. All of the vocal melodies combine so naturally with the music that it creates a wonderfully meditative listening experience that is easy to get lost in. Parallels can be drawn to Shining’s Niklas Kvarforth in both the overall delivery and raw emotional power.
The remaining three songs on the album continue on this path with a few added textures and nuances. For instance, the use of acoustic guitars lines layered over the repetitive, distorted tremolo riffs in “Jag fyller min bägare med tomhet” adds a captivating counterpoint melody. Little flourishes of speed and some heavier riffs also help to add character and keep the long songs, which average about 12 minutes, from ever becoming monotonous or overwrought. The song structures are fairly straightforward, which make the album easily accessible from the first listen, but still manage engage on repeated listens. Anyone with even a fleeting interest in atmospheric black metal will find Solens Vemod a worthy addition to his or her collection.