Last year might have been different in a lot of ways, but that didn’t prevent us from getting a string of excellent releases from Haeresis Noviomagi, as has become the norm in the label’s five years of existence.
The first of the bunch was Turia‘s highly anticipated third album, «Degen Van Licht». The band presented it live on two seprate occasions. First in Antwerp, alongside Ihloosuhree, Invunche, and Laster, and the day after in Utrecht, with opening performances by Disequillibrium and Defacement. Structured in its usual way, going from the tension raising intro «I» to the smooth outro of «Ossifrage», the album and its live performance patently demonstrate that the trio had never before captured their stage intensity and sound so faithfully on record. That this is so can be witnessed in the melancholic riff turned into furious onslaught of «Met Sterven Beboet». At the end of January, the band released a video for the album’s fifth track, «Storm», featuring footage taken from «The Epic Of Everest», directed by J.B.L. Noel.
One structural novelty in «Degen Van Licht» is the presence of the «Ii» interlude, which precedes the album’s grand final «Ossifrage», arguably one of the finest songs they’ve ever crafted.
Following those shows, the band embarked on a tour with Iffernet. Two other performances scheduled for the spring were unfortunately cancelled with the spreading of the pandemic. One in London, alongside two of the biggest black metal forces from Belgium in Alkerdeel and Lugubrum, and another in Amsterdam, with Ainsoph, Lifeless Past, and Jaap Middernacht.
In the meantime, another joint release with Eisenwald saw the light of day, this time around it was Fluisteraars‘s third full-length «Bloem». The band stands as surely one of the most unique and important proposals among the current generation of dutch black metal and that is on full display in «Bloem». It’s never a strict linear evolution with the now duo of M. Koops on the instrumental side and B. Mollema on voice. Going back in time, «Luwte» saw a leaning towards grandiosity that was seemingly gone by the time the more raw and aggressive «Geldernald» EP was released. Jump forward a couple of years, and that grandeur was not only back on their side of the «De Oord» split, but arguably had been taken to its logical conclusion. What tends to remain constant is a naturalistic emphasis, which in «Bloem» is quite aptly brought to the surface not only through the album’s themes but through the songs’ evocative nature. Surprisingly, the whole records sounds extremely refrained and balanced, while at the same time even more majestic and exuberant. No song overstays its welcome and the writing feels generally streamlined. The album’s peak comes arguably at its midpoint, namely, «Eeuwige Ram», but its more restrained nature is perhaps none more evident than in «Narsleep», which goes from harrowing to pretty to horn filled psychedelics all through another cycle of explosion and contraction before the last crescendo in less than eight minutes.
In June, Lubbert Das was announced to play the release show of Alkerdeel alongside the legendary Ved Buens Ende. This was initially scheduled for February 2021, but has subsequently been moved for February 2022, as we explained here.
The stream of new releases carried on in October, with a trio of offerings comprised of a new Iskandr EP, the debut of Empyrean Grace, and a live split between Turia and Lubbert Das.
Starting with Iskandr, the new EP was titled «Gelderse poort», the name of a natural reserve around the area where the Rhine’s delta begins. Following on the steps of the fantastic full-length «Euprosopon», the new offering once again features drumming by M. Koops and was jointly released alongside Eisenwald. The connection to its predecessor extends to the first half of the new EP, which was recorded in the same sessions, as explained by O. during an interview with Invisible Oranges, in which he further elaborates on the album’s themes, particularly on the importance of the «Het Graf» poem by Rhijnvis Feith, which is recited on the EP’s second song. Unlike previous Iskandr releases, which focused exclusively on black metal, the second half of «Gelderse poort» is fundamentally an ambient track, made through subdued piano and minimalistic guitars, with a spoken word rendition of the poem on top.
«Gelderse Port» was released on October 23, 2020, by Haeresis Noviomagi and Eisenwald and is available here on digital format.
On the same day, the label released «Bestowment of the Seraphic Key», the debut demo of Empyrean Grace. Dubbing its sound as “mystical ethereal black metal,” the project first foray is comprised of a single song spanning close to half an hour. Feverishly hypnotic, it doesn’t take long for it to make good on the promise of transporting one to the “entheogenic, bitter desert heats of antiquity,” instead of the “old Nordic forests.” As the song’s ebb and flow guide us to its gentle ending, two things are set in stone, that we will return and that we will patiently wait for more from this new entity.
«Bestowment of the Seraphic Key» was released on October 23, 2020, by Haeresis Noviomagi and is available here on digital format.
For the next release, we head all the way back to 2016, when both Lubbert Das and Turia played a couple of shows in Athens, Greece, one as an invite-only performance at the Death Disco, and another at Kyttaro supporting the legendary Virus. As the press release explains, the former was entirely recorded, however, “remained locked in the vaults the years after.” On Octobe 23, 2015, the first Lubbert DasEP released under the Haeresis Noviomagi banner, «Deluge», saw the light of day. This led the label to release the live split on the fifth anniversary of that release. The first two songs on the split are indeed from Lubbert Das, the first, «Slijper», going all the way back to their 2014 debut demo «Keye», and the second, then unrecorded and unreleased, is «De honger», which would become the opening track of their 2018 full-length, «De plagen». On the Turia side, the trio first heads to «Dor» to present its second track, «Ascese», and follows that up with «Een poort van takken en loof», also the second track but this time from 2017’s «Dede Kondre». All tracks were subsequently mastered by frequent Haeresis Noviomagi collaborator Peter Johan Nÿland of Hadewych.
«Live In Athens Split» was released on October 23, 2020, by Haeresis Noviomagi and is available here on digital format.
We finish with two possibilities of witnessing a more current version of each band in a live setting. First, on October 31, Lubbert Das performed at the dB’s in Utrecht and the full performance can be watched at this location. A few days later, Turia played a concert at the Doornroosje in Nijmegen, which can be watched in its entirety below.