Published on Monday, 26 December 2016 22:53
Album title: Transnatura
Release date: 2 December 2016
Label: Nika Records
04. I Am You
05. Sleeper Is Awake
07. Gaga People
09. Rudra The Roarer
10. Su Maha Gora
Pioneers of Slovenian extreme metal, Noctiferia, are back with a surprise named Transnatura. Actually this is not a proper new album, but an acoustic album with reworked songs from their last three albums; it consists of one song taken from Slovenska Morbida (2006), five from Death Culture (2010) and five from their latest album Pax (2014). Ok, I miss, or better said that I would love to hear something from their seminal album Per Aspera (2002) made in this way, but I'm fine with what we got. Still, Transnatura is not your typical acoustic album with bands classic songs, like is some kind of a trend today, the songs on Transnatura are almost beyond recognition, only the attentive ear can find similarities with original versions. The band completely rearranged everything, they striped the songs down to the bone, there's no metal left, vocals are way different (for the first time ever I actually like Gianni's vocal approach), they went to explore new territories, thus on this record Noctiferia sound thorougly completely different like we were used. Regarding to that we can count Transnatura as a completely new album, the sixth one for Noctiferia.
So, when and where all this started. It was last year when the band got an invite to present themselves with an acoustic set in the popular radio show 'Izštekani', hosted by Slovenian national radio station Val 202. It seems that the band liked the idea and they went further into exploring this kind of sound, the result is present at Transnatura. To say the truth, Noctiferia were never really kind of a typical metal band, even when they started their journey as a black/death metal band in 1997, they crossed the borders of the genre, and definitely showed their potential when they begun to explore more industrial metal waters on Slovenska Morbida, but still keeping it extreme and progressive as hell. Everything then culminated into some kind of perfection on Pax. Ok, that's the past, now we are facing something completely new.
Like I said before there's no metal on Noctiferia's experiment Transnatura, at least it's not evidently there, but still there's enough heaviness and kind of extremity that infiltrates into the songs from somewhere beyond. The band was finally able to show their more vulnerable side, with this bold move they gained in atmosphere and lucidity. Heavily distorted guitars are replaced with various untypical instruments like is brass section, woodwinds, different strings, accordion, weird percussion, acoustic guitars, piano, dark almost spoken versatile male vocals and plenty of female vocals. The band invited many guests in here and everyone left his/her touch on Transnatura. Noctiferia offer a journey into the sonic world full of musical variations, from folk (not your typical one), jazz, swing, country and yet much more. There's a lot of darkness inside the songs and while listening to songs on Transnatura you'll sometimes feel like being somewhere in the misty dark forest sorounded by naked witches dancing around the fire ("Mara"), and sometimes you'll be thrown into kind of ecstatic rapture by enchanting female vocal variations and tribalistic rhythms ("Samsara"). Yet those heavy bass lines and thumping percussions add a lot of heaviness, no matter to that the songs are surprisingly cohesive and atmospheric, played with perfection, yet very psychedelic and multilayered. But not only, I find it so very appealing when the band inserts certain danceable rhythms that smell of latino temperament which most of the times converges into perverted mystical Balcanic party ("I Am You", "Catharsis"). I was blown away by use of smooth jazzy elements in the "Rudra The Roarer" and how nicely it blends into the whole picture. Transnatura has a lot of depth and is a very dynamic album, imagine that even theatrical elements sneak up into the picture here and there, most evidently you'll find those in the rather playful "Holymen". My favorite tracks are nicely building up in ambiance, the captivating "Su Maha Gora" and hypnotically bombastic yet strong "Sleeper Is Awake", which sounds just like if Samael, Emir Kusturica, Laibach, White Zombie and Dead Can Dance had an orgy together. There are many driving groovy parts that give a special bonus to some songs which could otherwise sound too much lacerated. In all this well executed madness you can sense also certain melancholy that comes forward with gloomy cello passages and sometimes moody vocals.
Transnatura is unique and very complex work of art, it's a bewitching experiment that with use of untypical elements offers music for those who are willing to explore the depths of something evil, wicked and dark in nature, but at the same time it's so very alive and colourful. There are songs that I will skip in the future, like is a mellow version of "Demoncracy" or "Gaga People", vocals in here are simply not suitable enough to bring forth the very essence of hidden mysticism, but those are songs that I didn't like also in their original edition. Production is fantastic, it adds a lot of depth, power and every single instrument can be enjoyed in its fullness. The only second thought I have is about lyrics, I don't find them appropriate for this kind of music, some of them yes, but those with more social critical communicativeness work out somehow strange. Transnatura is an album that brings shivers down the spine and has a strong replay value, yet I'm sure that with every consequent listen you'll be able to discover more and more hidden things. Everything on Transnatura is there to stimulate the listener senses to maximum and in the end I can only say that everyone who is open enough to discover new things should give it a try.
Review written by: T.V.