We delve deep into the dark but ambitious concepts of the latest Necronautical album.
Those who know Chris Fielding’s name will most likely associate it with music of the slow ‘n’ heavy variety, but the Conan bassist and doom super-producer has turned his talents to something a bit different here, capturing the brand new album from UK purveyors of blackened intensity Necronautical.
The North-West trio emerged in 2014 with their debut album Black Sea Misanthropy, but truly came into their own two years later with The Endurance At Night, a grander and more ambitious album in which the band’s symphonic elements fully heightened their palatable brand of black metal. On third outing Apotheosis, which drops on 30th August, Fielding’s skills are put to good use, the band largely foregoing the raw production favoured by some of their ilk in order to offer relentless but epic songs with drums that boom, guitars that roar and melodies that truly add depth to otherwise straightforward bouts of brutality.
At face value, there’s not much here to differentiate Necronautical from their kin, but what will inevitably keep you coming back to these tracks is their dynamic nature, with the band showing a willingness to diverge from the beaten path despite a core sound and image that walks right through the middle of it. Apotheosis‘ tracks drift from comfortable middle-of-the-road black metal to servings of symphonic grandeur and progressive flourishes that truly help encapsulate the album’s lofty concept.
Eager to find out more about the album, its themes and what inspired it, we had the band break the album down for us one track at a time. Over to them.
Necronautical: Our latest album Apotheosis explores an abstract concept: The deification of anthropomorphised “emptiness”. A god created not out of worship, or wish for order, but out of desperation and fear. The idea was fleshed out into more of a treatise on the underlying systems that the existence of a god depends on, and what the impact of a physical confirmation of belief would be on those systems. There is a face-value critique of organised religion throughout the album, implicit in the central argument that man has created god, and not the other way around, but the album is intended more as an exploration into why he has done so in both contexts. Here, we break down the concepts underscoring each track on the album in more detail, and discuss how we have aimed to craft the songs to symbolise these concepts musically.
All Is Vanity
‘All Is Vanity’ is both a commentary on the duplicity of organised religion, and a spiritual manifesto for a new nihilism. By upturning that most vain of conceits, that god created man in his own image, the song espouses personal liberty through the rejection of systemic constraints, be they earthly or metaphysical. In a universe where mankind’s pursuits will ultimately be forgotten, the song reduces all human endeavours to nothing more than egoism. To reflect this in the music, we opted for a more technical approach to the structuring of the song (for our own vanity), but were sure to conclude the track with a very monotonous, numbing slab of black metal misery, to hammer home a feeling of emptiness and despair, that all was for nothing.
Nihil Sub Sole Novum
The title ‘Nihil Sub Sole Novum’ translates as “nothing new under the sun”, and acts as a challenge to the conclusion of Ecclesiastes 1:9 from whence it came. Instead the song seeks to elevate the bleak and repetitive nature of life and humanity to the dais reserved for its gods. The lyrics draw on the concept of anamnesis and of a mythical pre-human golden age, and asks if such rediscovered knowledge can break the monotony of existence. To manifest this concept musically, we opted to stretch out the song’s primary melodies to create a trance-like effect, deliberately recycling the same motifs in a different context later in the song: “What has been before will be again”.
Lure Of The Abyss
‘Lure Of The Abyss’ describes the isolation found in the figurative disconnect between a man and mankind, but also the freedom of the realisation that one is not bound by the other. By recognising nothingness itself as a font of great power, Nietzsche’s model of profound nihilism is given a more theistic and literal treatment. The music is intended to embody the idea of the abyss itself: strong and powerful, yet bleak and droning. A nod to Nietzsche’s famous concept of the abyss staring back into you.
‘Apotheosis’ details the physical manifestation of this new deity, as told from the viewpoint of its would-be preacher, wherein all the qualities of man that are born from nothingness are elevated to divine status. Outside of the narrative element, it is also a reflection on the nature of mortality, and on the journey of a thought from its origination to a belief or value. The word “apotheosis” means the highest point of something’s development, or it’s elevation to divine status. To reflect this in the music, the song was constructed to elevate the epic and melancholic melody of its central riff, which serves as the centre and musical climax of the record.
‘Totentanz’ is a reference to a religious art and poetry movement popularised in 15-16th Century Germany which depicts the equality of death, as an attempt to scare people into worship by reminding them of the fragility of their mortal lives. In our tribute to this genre, death itself is revered as a great liberator, as one of the facets and most powerful manifestations of nothingness. The title translates to English as the “dance of death”, and so for the music we constructed a bleak waltz-like rhythm, culminating in a very depressive and immersive piece. As lyrical play, we discuss “death” as an entity without ever speaking its name.
Here Begins The Fall
‘Here Begins The Fall’ is an account of those who awaited the rapture, but were instead faced with a deity and a reality they could not accept. It critiques the idea of a codified morality, both by highlighting the hypocrisies of those things considered most holy, and by presenting a case for nihilism as a form of natural justice. To further abet the more scornful approach to this particular song’s lyricism, this music takes on an all together more aggressive and brutal approach without relent.
The Endless Spiral
‘The Endless Spiral’ is about the reconciliation of the grand narratives of religion, philosophy, science and history with the self. All these competing ideas attempt to make sense of the universe from one particular viewpoint, but ultimately the universe does not care what you think about it. We argue that there is a certain solace to be taken from the cosmic irrelevance of any one person. Musically the song concludes the journey of the album, and we aimed to create a kind of “spiralling” effect, whereby the music takes you from a slow, melancholic start, and finds you in a swirling maelstrom of black metal malice. Once through the storm, the music finds its epiphany along with the lyrics, with an epic solo section bringing resolve to the chaos that preceded it. But as this epiphany is one of solace in humanities’ inconsequentiality, we felt it would be fitting to close the album on a very drawn-out depressive section, that is as bleak as it is comforting. This section also shares a lot of tonal common ground with the album opener ‘All Is Vanity’, eluding to the cyclical, monotonous nature of existence that we have described throughout the record, by bringing it to a close at the same point where it began.
Apotheosis is out 30th August on Candlelight Records. Purchase here.
Words: George Parr
For more Astral Noize content, check out the new Issue One Redux, available now!