Review Summary: Focused and satisfying, gut-punching and tear-jerking
Deafheaven has been named in so many reviews as a clear inspiration to other artists these days that it has become somewhat of a cliché and maybe at this point even calling this fact out has been done ad nauseam. Yet it is seldom done without a clear reason and for Canada’s Numenorean, one could certainly see the resemblances on their first full-length album ‘Home’. It borrowed heavily from the blackgaze movement with its heavy, and heavily layered instrumentation and melancholy themes and lyrics. Even though it did not bring anything new to the table, it did a lot of things right. Most importantly, it was a very emotional and engaging listen that never bored me at any point.
Three years in the making, ‘Adore’ sees the band going for a slight evolution of their sound and again, they do a lot things right. The big melodies, blastbeats and dark and emotional lyrics are all still present. Yet one of the first things I noticed about ‘Adore’ is how groovy it is. Borrowing equally from bands like Enslaved (and even Gojira) as from blackgaze, the songs have way more ‘drive’ about them and are much more exhilarating as an effect. Songs like Horizon
replace the anger and sadness with outright fury. The fast drums and riffing groove together to make those parts equally gut-punching and satisfying. Yet even on these more straight-forward songs, Numenorean never forget to keep the entire affair filled to the brim with atmosphere and sadness by using simple but strong guitar melodies and a lot of vocal reverb.
One of the problems I have with the genre in which Numenorean operate is that in a lot of cases, the songs form a sum greater than its parts. It makes listening to single songs less enjoyable and almost, in a way, blasphemous. On ‘Adore’, Numenorean manage to sidestep this pitfall by doing a couple of things very cleverly.
The pacing of the album is nothing short of excellent. It knows precisely how to build suspension, as demonstrated by the intro song Nocebo
and the start of Portrait of Pieces
. This first real song is quintessential for the pacing that can be found on the rest of the album. It has a lot of diversity, switching from sad to angry to blind fury and back to sad in a way that leaves you on the edge of your seat. It also leaves a lot of breathing room for both the harder and the softer parts to shine in equal measure.
When it comes down to it, the album consists of an intro, outro, three clean and subdued interludes that act as pallet cleansers, and only five major statements. Three of those five clock in under six minutes, and the two longer ones don’t cross the nine minute mark. This gives a lot of focus to the album as a whole and it makes the 43 minutes fly by. The interludes are mostly acoustic and emotional in nature and though they are quite varied themselves, they never pulled me out of the vibe of the album.
There is also a lot of variety between the songs to give them each their own personality. Coma
and album highlight Adore
for example, both have clear overlapping styles, yet have a completely different listening experience. The first relies on its complex and intricate drum pattern to drive the song forward, while the second focuses way more on its vocally emotional delivery.
The biggest problem with ‘Adore’ is that, once again, it brings us nothing exactly new. It is treading in safe waters and doesn’t push the boundaries or experiment in any meaningful way. Yet it does feel like a refinement and perfection of an existing style that is at times grandiose and moving. And why wouldn’t they, when there is still so much that can be perfected within the genre？ ‘Adore’ certainly feels like a new staple and a perfect example on how to do it right.