Review Summary: Nadja continues to prove that they're truly the kings of experimental metal.
2008 proved to be another largely prolific year for Nadja, a two-piece out of Toronto that creates some of the most intelligent and awe-inspiring drone metal you’ll find anywhere. Unfortunately, 2008 also proved to be a rather mixed year as far as quality goes, as Nadja’s first two releases of the year--a full-length titled Desire in Uneasiness
and an EP called The Long Dark Twenties
--simply weren’t up to snuff. Desire in Uneasiness
was the big offender, being a repetitive and rather boring release that featured songs that never really built and seemed to go nowhere for waaaay too long. It was, as far as Nadja full-lengths go, the band’s first misstep in a rather solid discography.
Enter The Bungled & the Botched
. Released near the end of last year, Nadja’s twelfth full-length in only five years stands with Radiance of Shadows
, Truth Becomes Death
, and Thaumogenesis
as a highlight in their discography. Throughout its two colossal tracks and its hour-length, The Bungled & the Botched
mostly never tires and is magnificently composed, proving that Desire
was simply a teaser to get Aidan Baker and Leah Buckareff warmed and ready to tackle the big guns.
The Bungled & the Botched
opens with its title track, which clocks in at a ridiculous half-hour in length. While “The Bungled & the Botched” does take some time to get going--its acoustic intro is slightly overlong, but is impressive and calming for the first few minutes--it all pays off massively once the track builds up and that first smack of feedback washes over you. From there, you’re hooked: Baker and Buckareff pull off many of the same tricks we’ve come to associate Nadja with throughout this track, such as epic build-ups, beautiful drones, and blasts of densely layered guitars that produce a feeling that’s synonymous with the feeling one might have if a bus happened to be dropped on their face. You’ve heard it all before; that doesn’t mean it’s any less awe-inspiring or addictive.
Despite my claims of “bus/face/smashing drones”, “The Bungled & the Botched” really isn’t that
heavy of a track: true, its middle section consists mostly of dense, crushing, and brain-splitting sound, but much of “The Bungled & the Botched” is ambience and slow and quiet build-ups to the epic that follows it, which is titled “Absorbed in You”. And what an epic it is.
Baker has stated in interviews that he’s been influenced by abrasive and noisy artists such as Glenn Branca, Swans, and Merzbow: if so, “Absorbed in You” is more proof of those claims that anything else Nadja or Baker has released to date. “Absorbed in You” doesn’t build up to any epic monster middle section like its successor, instead, the track opens with ear-splitting feedback and face-crushing drones. It doesn’t let up either: in fact, the only true solace you’ll get from this screeching track is when it fuc
king ends. However, that doesn’t mean “Absorbed in You” isn’t interesting: Baker guides the listener smoothly through the bombing and the crushing with various tempo changes and the inclusion of a quieter, piano-led part near the middle that actually doesn’t rescue the listener from the obnoxious droning, instead building intensity, only to dive back carefully into the holocaust a few minutes later. The effect is fu
cking monstrous, and the thirty minutes fly pleasurably.
At this point in their career, with five years and twelve albums under their belt, you’d expect Nadja to try some different sh
it out with their newer stuff, just to stay slightly relevant and keep their music fresh. Oddly enough, The Bungled & the Botched
completely disregards that, with Baker and Buckareff instead choosing to perfect tricks they’ve already tried on previous works. Maybe it’s because Nadja’s music was so revolutionary to begin with, but the trick works: The Bungled & the Botched
comes off as one of the more polished pieces Nadja’s released to date. For The Bungled & the Botched
, drone meets funeral doom meets shoegaze--again--and I couldn’t be happier.