February 17, 2014

Nebelung - Palingenesis

Written by Justin C.

On occasion, I review music that isn't metal, but is what I'll call metal-adjacent, like a ukulele album from Dysrhythmia/Gorguts guitarist Kevin Hufnagel. In that vein, enter Nebelung, a German dark folk/acoustic trio whose new album, Palingenesis, is being put out by Temple of Torturous, the label home to black metal wonderfulness like Fyrnask and Melencolia Estatica.

Nebelung features steel string and classical guitars, cello, accordion, and a handful of other instruments. Keen listeners will even hear a hammered dulcimer in the track "Wandlung," which readers of this blog might be familiar with as the unusual instrument of choice for one-man black metal band Botanist. Vocals appear infrequently, and when they do, they're barely above a whisper. The music is subtle and enveloping. It's impressionistic, offering suggestions rather than definitive statements. It's like taking an autumnal walk through the woods with ghosts as accompaniment. This isn't music that will make you sit up and yell, "DAT RIFF!" It's more like, "DAT TRANSCENDENTAL JOURNEY OF THE MIND AND SPIRIT!" Above all, it's just plain lovely.

I almost hesitate to describe them as "folk" at all, since that term often suggests a more traditional kind of music, maybe even backward-looking, if we're being unkind. Not that there's anything wrong with traditional folk, bluegrass, or the standard repertoire of classical guitar. They're all fantastic swaths of music, but as a classical guitarist, I can tell you that I've played on programs where I'm the only person performing music written in the last 50 years. There's no real reason for acoustic instruments to be relegated only to nostalgia acts, and Nebelung hits that sweet spot for me with modern, almost timeless music made on acoustic instruments. At times, their compositions sound like understated versions of what acoutic-guitar virtuoso Michael Hedges played. Like Hedges, Nebelung play music with tools that some people might think of as old-fashioned, but the results stand out in an unexpected and captivating way.

[Go to the post to view the Bandcamp player]

Note: If you want to support the band directly, Palingenesis is also available on Nebelung's Bandcamp page, albeit at a higher price.

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