Novarupta’s Breathtaking Debut Atmospheric Sludge Metal Absolutely Crushes

Novarupta’s Disillusioned Fire charts an at times breathtaking path with monumentally emotional sludge metal that stirs the listener’s deepest tension. Listening to the album feels like falling to the earth while flames lick at the sky around you, leaving you a solitary beacon of humanity. The album freely flowing from mind-shattering sludge to gripping atmospherics illustrates the human emotional aspect of that crash. Here, the musicians don’t feel as interested in the facts of the decay they’re witnessing, instead focusing on the fact that — to put it simply — it hurts. The music doesn’t feel representative of the pain of nature or a collective as much as it shines a spotlight on a personal ache, even in the midst of lofty sound.

While often crashing like a sonic avalanche, the project’s debut album feels carefully controlled to reflect an anxiety-ridden state of emotional detachment. There are straightforward sonic elements that feel purified in order to exact the maximum effect — Disillusioned Fire opens with the bluntly dissonant riff-filled clouds of “Stones” that set some beastly gears in motion, and the crush returns in different forms throughout the record. Each time, the instrumentation has been turned into a heavy weight of tumult. Even much of the vocal work feels clearly discernible, at least compared to how harsh it could be, and this adds another set of emotional spikes digging into whatever and whoever this album comes in contact with.

The songs feel like a journey into the unknown wherein the walls drip backbreaking emotion. A sense permeates the record that there’s a usefulness in confronting this brute emotional darkness, since again, all hope is not lost. Project mastermind Alex Stjernfeldt continually presents his laborious, burdensome sludge in a controlled fashion, carefully suspending it in atmosphere that invites the listener in to experience the music and its underlying emotions from all sides, instead of simply, say, sensing an outcome without understanding how it emerged. While Disillusioned Fire might not be a therapy session of any form in the most traditional sense, it’s a cathartic expression that lets the sludge metal it works with not be so tense and those who partake to have a chance to simply fall to the ground if they need to.

5/5 Stars

Listen below via Bandcamp. The full album releases April 29 via Suicide Records