Thursday, March 15, 2007

Nahemah - The Second Philosophy CD Review

Metal kids have it rough. When they get down in the dumps, when the world is treating them like shit, when they just want to reach out to the nothingness of the sky above and let the tears roll, they don’t have a soundtrack to accompany their emotional woes. Emo kids have all their whiny, cry-baby bands to comfort them while they cut themselves in their bedrooms. The pretentious indie kids can toss on some Coldplay or Radiohead and jot down their feelings in stream of consciousness, bullshit journals. Pop-punk kids crank up their favorite bands' ballads and skateboard in loneliness. So what do metal kids get to listen to? There are no sad Pantera songs, no melancholic Meshuggah albums, or any depressing In Flames tunes. How are metal kids supposed indulge their angst? By embracing The Second Philosophy, that’s how.

Nahemah offer up a depressing combination of European doom metal, Depeche Mode influenced synths and song structures, and hearty, melodic undertones. Couple this combination with a mature mixture of early Isis styled growls and tender, mid-tenor melodic vocals and you have a very potent breed of doom metal. What’s most surprising about how good this release sounds is that, frankly, this band didn’t used to be very good. In the five years since their previous full length, this band has grown up, learned the intricacies of astute song-writing, taken on a few post-rock leanings, and gelled as a strong, cohesive unit.

The unique aura of melancholy and anguish that permeates the album is something you won’t find outside of a few select Opeth records and a Dark Tranquility song or two. Even when the band momentarily accelerates their usually slow tempos, such as on the song “Change”, the underpinning of the song is still one of expressing deep, heartfelt emotion. The mix of fluttering keys and angular, migrating guitars overlaid with alternating melodic and guttural vocals leaves you in a state of open-minded wondering, not so much in regards to the song, but about the emotions and thoughts elicited by the aural soundscape confronting you. Before the song’s seven plus minutes have completed, you’ll know that this is a band that knows how to pull emotion out of a listener.

Heart wrenching longing and enlightened despair do occasionally give way to a few slightly more upbeat emotional passages, but mostly only in the track “Subterranean Airports” which shows the band creating a small light at the end of their deep, dark tunnel. Before they let you reach that expansive daylight, however, the band rips into “Phoenix”, a sleazy, saxophone tinted journey that conjures up images of high class dive bars filled with their dingy patrons, drinking stiff drinks and wishing for nothing more than to rise up out of the refuse they’ve come to call their life.

When the hour that is The Second Philosophy draws to a somber close, you’ll know you’ve stumbled upon something special. This is the soundtrack to your darkest days, your hours of heartbreak, your weeks of depression, and your times of hurt. So rarely do bands manage to capture a single feeling in their music, let alone an entire emotional spectrum. Nahemah have not only grappled with the Herculean task of infusing true emotion into their music, but have succeeded at it, leaving them to reside in a very select class of musical artists.

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