Nova - _Il Ritorno_
(Aeternitas Tenebrarum Musicae Fundamentum, 2014)
by: Chaim Drishner (9 out of 10)
Despite the fact we do not support the globalization trend, especially when it comes to a subject that is so close to our hearts such as metal or underground music in general, we could have used some help here, because this all-Italian album calls, even begs, for translation to English. These Italians haven't bothered to enclose any info or translation of their lyrics, so for the very few of you who still don't read Italian, this band's message would remain utterly enigmatic.

But what -do- we know about Nova? Not much really. We do know they're Italian, and Italian metal is always good in our book, because Italian musicians always deliver that extra something -- call it a medieval flair, call it a sense of depravity, call it a mysterious essence, we don't care -- that renders the whole recording unique, in a heartbeat; a diversion from the norm, from being swallowed by an ocean of faceless bands trying to maneuver basically in the very same aesthetic swamp. But Italians do what Italians know how to do best, inside the metal context, and that is to deliver something fundamentally familiar yet singular; Nova's music is all about tradition -- black metal tradition, Italian tradition -- but with it comes their intrinsic aspiration and drive, to become greater and better than the tradition they were raised upon and fed from; to be the first among equals; to be the best, most innovative, in a fundamentally non-innovative genre of metal. In that regard, Nova's _Il Ritorno_ is the ultimate experience.

And so, you get one of those black metal albums that make your head clear and vision sharp, showing you black metal is not about the charade or soap-opera escapades of this or that scene's movers and shakers -- black metal is about making the music an indivisible part of the human flesh and the spiritual energies that hide therein. It's the perfect fusion of beast and man; of the most depraved, primitive facet of humanity's instincts, and its ability to re-invent itself and aspire for godhood. This is black metal and this is what Nova play, with heart, soul, guts, and sweat and passion too.

A pure, crisp delivery of no-frills black metal that actually sounds like black metal, in the sense it is free of the neo-black metal sound that comes in the form of the Cascadian / depressive / shoegaze rock etiquette; a sound that renders every aspiring black metal band more aggressive (if less depressive) shoegaze / post-black metal band. It seems everybody wants to be 'Cascadian' nowadays, or sound like My Bloody Valentine, or both. When we want to listen to black metal, we want to listen to -black fucking metal-, not shoegaze rock, but everything today is so shoegaze-y, finding a true black metal album with a pure sound seems like a task that's getting harder and harder still to accomplish lately.

Not here, not with Nova. They take black metal to its roots; well, not exactly the roots, because again, they are, after all, Italian, but _Il Ritorno_ seems like taking the art of metal to the basics, playing it with a hardcore-punk uproar and a punk-rock nonchalant manner, in addition to the quintessential black metal clich├ęs (the good ones: the atmosphere, the pace, the hate) and a very rock 'n' roll-ish infrastructure.

This music is absolutely and purely guitar driven, aided by robust drumming; so basically all you hear are the electric guitar riffs, and those are simple, direct, efficient and immersive, and that's really what black metal is all about. Black metal is not about the pomposity parade, but rather about doing something simple yet divine, like playing simple guitar riffs with the most basic orchestration in the background, yet making this cascade of riffs sound and feel like it belongs to other realms on other planes of existence; imagine a sonic mayhem in the Garden of Eden, or a monochromatic excursion into wonderland.

If you like black metal and appreciate it as an art form as high as the highest, most exquisite artworks of the world, then you are probably prepared to listen to this magnificent album.


(article published 2/5/2015)

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