Lustre – They Awoke to The Scent of Spring

Lustre
They Awoke to the Scent of Spring
Released September 1st 2012
Atmospheric Black Metal
Released via De Tenebrarum Principio

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This album by the Swedish one man band Lustre falls under the subgenre known as “Atmospheric Black Metal”. If that phrase has you thinking of bands such as “In The Woods…, Walknut”, “From The Sunset, Forest and Grief”, “Wongraven” and “Drudkh” then it’s probably a term that is familiar to you. From what I have gathered from other fans of the Black Metal genre, this is either loved or loathed. If you don’t like it, it’s easy to describe as boring or even pretentious. If like me, you are a fan, then it’s a genre that is similar to Funeral Doom, in that it is fairly difficult to do wrong. You know the deal: 9+ minute songs about forests and winter and stuff, echoey, haunting vocals, minimalist drumming (if featured at all), stretched out, melancholy riffs that repeat ad nauseum and perhaps some spooky keyboard sounds. Slap on a grayscale photograph of a forest and you’re good to go. And that perfectly describes this album.

Another common genre trait of this release is its concise format, with only four songs, each around the ten minute mark, slightly diminishing in length with each successive track, producing a kind of “fading away” effect on the listener. This leads me to draw mental comparisons to Nocturnal Depression’s Four Seasons to a Depression and numerous Wolves in The Throne Room albums, which are also around four songs in length, containing enthralling ten minute songs mostly based around natural landscapes, the changing of the seasons and mysticism. The music here is similarly minimalist, but does make use of keyboards, albeit very little: a few sparse melodies resonate in the backdrop of the music, whilst the melancholic riffs lead the way (though admittedly, at times they lead nowhere). The production is predictably murky and cold and the final track is entirely ambient; played over the gentle sound of falling rain. This kind of music is far less dynamic than the frenetic riffing found in most other genres of Metal, but instead the music rises and falls like the slow rolling of ocean waves. Whilst mainstream Heavy Metal projects itself in a bombastic manner akin to Arena Rock – a sort of cacophonic grand symphony of guitars; this kind of music echoes around the listener as if projected in a church or a dark Scandinavian forest. The effect is simultaneously more intimate with the listener, and also more distant and less immediate; producing a kind of dark romantic projection of wild landscapes. It is best listened to in the dark, just before attempting sleep.

It’s difficult to call this album “depressing” in the conventional way but it is certainly gloomy and obscure in its atmosphere. It’s sometimes a difficult musical style to describe when compared with more straightforward Metal, but words such as meditative, mystical and most obviously atmospheric come to mind, and occasionally words like beautiful and haunting. I’m a long term listener to this peculiar subset of Black Metal, and an album rarely catches my attention so easily on the first few listens. “Lustre” is very appropriate moniker for the sound that Nachtzeit has created and this album does as good a job of any at evoking a sense of longing for forests and dark, primeval Swedish landscapes. This is a cold windswept journey through ancient lands that man has long since forgotten, and in that it is a very successful album.

4.2/5

By Paul Gibbins

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