Forged out of the icy wilderness of the north, this beast of Helsinki/Philadelphia composes odes of cold subsonics and frigid atmospheres. Inspired by founder Mika Mage’s Finnish heritage, the band showcases Ambient Black Metal visuals and atmospheres. Cold, grim, and strangely uplifting, Nihilistinen Barbaarisuus are masters of melancholy...
Before I start this review, I want to say, I’m a sucker for physical media. I just received my copy of The Child Must Die today. First, I love the Digipak and the vivid artwork. The front and back cover are illustrated with evocative imagery that harkens to early classic Black Metal albums like Emperor’s In the Nightside Eclipse and Dark Funeral’s Secrets of the Black Arts. It’s filled with deep purple, green and blue hues, invoking that feeling of something dark and ancient. The cold color scheme has to be intentional, because it’s a subtle advisory of what’s to be found in the music within.
The Child Must Die is basically, from my understanding, a concept album. With the exception of the title track, the lyrics are adapted from The Kalevala, a compilation of epic poetry from Finnish oral folklore and mythology. This is serious North American Black Metal that is deeply rooted in the thematic concepts of Northern European paganism and heathen creation myth.
Lyrical concepts aside, this is a velocious, frigid and ferocious album.
Many black metal bands use or have used keyboards, synths and other atmospheric tools to varying degrees of success (including this band in previous releases). Quite a few bands only manage to detract and distract with atmospheric keyboards. As I listen to The Child Must Die, I only hear it improve the frigid textures of the music.
These songs are hard, bleak and forceful. This album starts with the song, Wondrous Sampo, which without warning, thrusts the listener headlong into aural abuse. Väinämöinen, in particular, throttles forward with blistering blast beats, while the keys help to evoke a rich layer of atmosphere. These elements perfectly complement the stark, throaty wails of the vocalist, Joel Robert Thompson. The production of this album craftily combines a classic, raw style, with a crispness that belies the skill and musicianship of Mika Mage’s obvious perfectionism.
I don’t know if this album is going to break new ground for any black metal fans, and I don’t know if it needs to. This album does exactly what it’s supposed to do: be really fucking brutal Atmospheric Black metal. In that sense, it is a work of perfection. The Child Must Die is unmistakably unique in that this album doesn’t sound like anyone else, but it still fits comfortably within the confines of the genre.
If you are a fan of raw, cold, atmospheric Black Metal, Nihilstinen Barbaarisuus’ the Child Must Die is required listening. It’s a savage, 33 minute journey that will beg additional listens. This is my favorite release so far this year, and one of the best USBM albums I’ve heard in a while. Do yourself a favor and get a copy.