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NU:N - Naked Until Noema (2016) - Review

Band: NU:N
Album title: Naked Until Noema
Release date: 31 October 2016
Label: Black Genesis Records

01. Aethyr
02. Ceremonial
03. Seeds Of Absence
04. Untitled
05. Romeo Without Juliet
06. Súplica
07. Incessant Lies
08. Hidden Praise
09. Remember Me
10. Carved Silence
11. Green Hour Glides

Come forth chosen ones
Come forth holy ones
From the sacred waters of NU:N
From the sacred waters in bloom

"Gothic rock is not dead!", is the phrase, rather worn out one though, but it came to my mind right after the first listen to this album. After their rather mellow debut, Nothing Unveils Nothing, but still an album that reached almost a cult status among the followers of the genre, the Portuguese trio NU:N returns in such a great style with their sophomore full-lenght, its name is Naked Until Noema (you noticed that the titles of both of their albums are derivates from letters NUN, right?). This new album is in one word - transcedental! It perfectly captures the pivotal essence of goth rock, it's dark, mythical, obscure and while listening to it transcends time, space and even perception. It's a huge step forward in comparison to before mentioned debut, and it's difficult to really compare it to anything done before inside the genre, even though it incorporates all the typical elements specific for the genre, but still it goes one step further, it's a declination and absolutely not just another worn out copy of big names.

Francisco, T.M. and Pedro have composed eleven diverse tracks that are so very haunting and captivating at the same time that you'll most likely not even notice when those 56 minutes of playing time go by. Naked Until Noema is a clear statement that borders inside this rather narrow genre can be crossed, expanded and overthrown, but still remaining goth in its primal essence. The Portuguese trio emerges in a new proportion of sound and writting exploration bringing them closer to themselves, and thus invites every dark soul out there to join them on this journey full of deviations and variations, where different ambiances, dark soundscapes, from typical gothic rock to almost industrial segments, ritualistic drama, dark theatre and occasional strange but so appealing, almost with kind of exotic Arabic scent enriched melodies, will keep the listener hooked for quite some time.

Even if the tracks are so very diverse between each other, what results in great dynamics, the album has some kind of a strange flow and coherency. From the fantastic tribalistic hypnotic opener "Aethyr" on, with guest vocalist Carfax Haddo from Costa Rican gothsters Last Dusk, the band offers so very refined and stylistically elaborated sound which manifests in the tracks like are the sparkling and groovy goth rockers "Ceremonial" and "Incessant Lies", both bringing in mind The Nephilim album from you know who. Great dark gothy atmospheric keys and prudent use of different electronic loops deepens the sound greatly, add to that truly haunting deep vocals of T.M., reverberate vibrant bass lines, strong pounding drum beats and classy goth guitars, everything is best heard and experienced in "Seeds Of Absence" or in otherwordly a bit industrial metallic "Súplica", culminating then in the grandiose "Carved Silence". The momentum of this album is all over very intense and the dramatic factor is intensified further with tracks like it's the short intermezzo "Untitled", with ambiental musical background and only spoken words provided by Stephanie Sabat from Last Dusk, creating kind of a cinematic feel to it. There's throughout present some kind of mythical and horror sensation, nicely blended with some rather danceable rhythms, especially in the strange ritualistic and rather theatrical "Romeo Without Juliet". NU:N are smoothly manoeuvreing even when they get somehow emotional in the track "Remember Me", here the vocals are handled by another guest vocalist, Oliver Heuer from German gothic rockers Sweet William, its warmness reminds a little bit to Red Sun Revival, and in the end they show that dark ambient is not a strange thing to them in more than 13 minutes long "Green Hour Glides". I must say that I find it welcoming that quite some gothic rock bands, like for example Merciful Nuns, Sweet Ermengarde and now NU:N, are adding dark ambient elements into their compositions to create their soundscapes even more nightmarish, cinematic and multidimensional.

Naked Until Noema has everything necessary to become a classic album inside the genre, it has that most needed magical pathos that grabs the listener with its claws and it doesn't let you go. It's hypnotic in its obscurity and gloomness, it's catchy enough, it evokes sensational melancholic feelings and by sliding between suspenseful warm and cold ambiances it embraces with some kind of harmonic infinity. Naked Until Noema is one hell of a well structured, greatly composed and almost perfectly produced album. This is the primordial gothic rock feeling in all of its greatness, this is Gothic Rock in its expansion!

Review written by: T.V.
Rating: 9/10