Written by: AP on 02/01/2022 18:58:13

Striving, in their own words, to deliver the soundtrack to your daydream, Nordsind is not your typical product of the Danish metal underground. Where others choose brutality, the duo has opted for drama; where other bands focus on speed, the two musicians embrace atmosphere; where others use words to transmit their messages, this Copenhagen outfit enlists the power of notes, textures and timbres to convey emotions and imagery by instrumental means alone. It is surprisingly rare for Danish rock and metal bands to shun vocals, and equally so to follow the post-metal or post-rock path, but Nordsind threw themselves headfirst into this lonely niche on their 2017 EP “Efterår”, and then made a name for themselves with a series of intense live performances that were adored by genre aficionados and first-timers alike, yours truly included. I had thus been looking forward to hearing their début album “Lys” when it came out last spring, and rest assured the long delay in actually distilling my thoughts on it to a review has nothing to do with the record itself — just my extreme capacity for procrastination, plus a general lapse of inspiration and motivation that has been afflicting me for more than a year now.

I have found solace in bands like Nordsind before when things have felt depressing, and “Lys” is no different. Its title translates simply to light, which is explored both from the physical and the metaphysical angle and distilled into euphonies that, by virtue of being instrumental, are completely open to interpretation. In my mind, they rearrange frustrations into a state of serenity and thus act in a cathartic way, shining the light of day into the darkest of chambers and burning off the unwanted thoughts that reside there. But others are likely to have a different experience, which speaks to the success of Nordsind’s songwriting approach, in which contrasts are rife and movement is perpetual. I am aware that such a description sounds familiar; it has been used to characterise a thousand bands in post-rock, post-metal and shoegaze to the point that it sounds trite. But there is actually something quite unique about Nordsind that makes them nigh impossible to pigeonhole — the duo seems to exist in all of them simultaneously. The opening track “Io”, for instance, conforms to a fairly classic post-rock template, with layers of clean guitar notes glittering above a dynamic rhythm section that dictates the ebb-and-flow between tranquil passages and louder swells. Very much in the vein of bands like If These Trees Could Talk and This Will Destroy You.

But the second song “Portræt i skygger” (a portrait in shadows) then takes a turn toward the metal lairs, as drummer Ole Gregers Lorenzen employs the thunder of his double pedal and Asger Sørensen unleashes a minor tremolo guitar lead to transform their sound into something resembling their blackgazing countrymen in MØL, sans the vocals. It has a bittersweet, yet also celebratory tone that carries over into the following “Når himlen falder, kommer lyset tættere på” (when the sky falls, the light comes closer), one of the standout tracks here thanks to not only the towering crescendo of melancholia that rises from a quiet trough in the middle, but also an inspired trumpet soliloquy by guest musician Christoffer O’Donoghue Dideriksen. With some imagination, one could liken this piece to the tidal waves of noise that the Japanese act Mono is renowned for, albeit the rhythm here is somewhat brisker. Another opulent highlight is delivered by “For evigt forblændet” (forever blinded) in the album’s second half, which again strikes the perfect balance between dark and light, noise and placidity, and features one of those guitar leads that burrows itself into your memory and renders the absence of vocals inconsequential. The record is eventually brought to its conclusion by “Ilddåb” (baptism of fire), which leans heavily into the aforementioned Mono’s style of shoegaze, building its hulking frame up with slow deliberate steps and then imploding amidst thumping bass drums and crashing cymbals to leave behind it only a handful of lone guitar strums.

Although Nordsind are not afraid of divulging their sources of inspiration on “Lys”, the album thus has enough of a personality for the band to hold their own in the long lineage of post-metal and -rock artists and indeed to make a name for themselves within these subgenres. Their decision to explore not just one, but multiple offshoots of instrumental rock music pays off, adding to their music the kind of nuances and variety that should suffice to raise international eyebrows, even if the end product is neither as innovative nor quite as diverse as it could have been. At the very least, Nordsind have earned their place among Denmark’s post-metal and -rock royalty and should have an interesting year ahead of them, provided the pandemic situation allows them to properly take their latest creations with them out on the road.


Download: Portræt i skygger; Når himlen falder, kommer lyset tættere på; For evigt forblændet
For the fans of: Pillars, Sagor Som Leder Mot Slutet, Shadow Universe, This Will Destroy You
Listen: Facebook

Release date 26.03.2021
Araki / Belladonna / Dingleberry / Maniyax / Vinyltrolden / Voice of the Unheard

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