Black Metal, Metal, Post-Black Metal

No Sun Rises – Harmisod (Review)

Band:No Sun Rises
Genre:Black Metal, Post-Black Metal
Release Date:15th of September, 2023
Released viaAlerta Antifascista Records
Golden Coffin Records
ArtworkNimmermehr Artworks

When continuously diving deeper into the realms that open up while digging into the music of the underground, it gets more and more interesting to see how exactly you end up having first encountered a band that you eventually fall for. When we planned to write a larger article for the Culthe Fest 2023, I looked up quite a few bands and I’d be lying if I said that I knew all of them. One of the bands that got stuck in my head for quite some time was Göttingen-based Black Metal combo No Sun Rises. The first glance at their bandcamp page showed off with the statements “Fuck NSBM” and “Fuck nazi-sympathy” – and going by the fact that this is a Black Metal combo, I was interested already.

First things first, though. No Sun Rises is a Black Metal combo that was originally located in Münster, which is also why they found their way onto the Lower Rhine Underground channel. However, throughout the process of releasing Harmisod, the major share of the band moved, which is why they are now announced as a Göttingen-based combo. After their Demo in 2016, No Sun Rises followed up with their full-length debut Ascent / Decay that got followed by their 2020 release Dominum Terrae. After a pause throughout most of the pandemic era, No Sun Rise‘s third release Harmisod was set to unfold in front of the public in 2023.

What is it that you might be expecting when going into Harmisod? The initial releases of No Sun Rises showcased nature-affected music that takes great strengths from the tones of Folk. Especially on their second release Dominum Terrae, this becomes evidently clear with those two rather long tracks that take damn of a lot of space to breathe, which they perfectly succeed to do so. Scarce Black Metal elements can be found on this release, which already marked quite a statement. On Ascent / Decay, the Black Metal influence is much more present than on its follow-up. Thus, it can be mentioned already that it feels as if Harmisod is to a certain extent the natural progression of the previous releases of this band.

When diving into Harmisod, it only takes a few seconds of “NebellebeN” to find out quite a few aspects that developed when comparing to Ascent / Decay in the first place. On their previous release, No Sun Rises already strongly showcased quite some elements that indicated a bold Black Metal foundation. However, the sound also beared a lot of resemblance of the Sludge-infused Black Metal tone that shares roots in the Hardcore scene. Think of early releases of Downfall of Gaia right on the verge when they moved towards more straightforward Black Metal. On Harmisod, though, it seems as if No Sun Rises were way more interesed to go all in and fully immerse in Black Metal.

The aforementioned first track of the album immediately kicks off with freezing cold Black Metal riffing that throws you right into the scene of Norwegian Black Metal. Those opening, ice-cold riffs that lead into this track leave no doubt that this is gonna be different. As soon as the vocals join, I have to admit that I had to think of Norwegian Black Metal, but played by a specific German Black Metal band. Especially this first track had me think of Helrunar on their seminal record Frostnacht for so many times. The riffing, the vocals, the production, this bears strong resemblance. Surprise – the fact that Helrunar’s full-length debut has remained one of my most favorite German Black Metal albums of all time immediately kicked Harmisod into my full-hearted attention.

The back and forth between frosty open riffs and memorable tremolo picking, the harsh Black Metal vocals, the production that sets the vocals a little further in the background and the oscillation of the drums will keep your attention throughout this entire track for sure. After the first half of “NebellebeN,” No Sun Rises then clearly draw one of their strenghts to embellish the song structure with an implemented clean sequence that sets up an interlude. Initially, the warming beauty works perfectly well already when compared to the preceding cold. However, this mesmerizing acoustic melody is not everything that makes up this interlude. On top of that, we get an original recoridng of Hermann Hesse reading his poem Im Nebel and if you are able to understand German, this will post certainly give you absoulte goosebumps. I came back to this track some times only to instantly go for this sequence since it works so damn well with the entire framework of the sound.

When taking a closer look at No Sun Rise‘s bandcamp page, it is stated that this band playes “Post”-Black Metal. On “NebellebeN,” it can be argued, though, that this Post element is not very present. This is going to change on the second track “Unter Tage (Regress)” right off, then. This track begins with a stunning, slightly epic acoustic guitar intro that is subsequently accompanied by a female voice (Nicole by Luminescent). At this point, another strength of this album comes into the forefront. When delving in the spheres of Post-Black Metal, sequences that derive beautiful or heartwarming atmosphere from certain parts in their songstructure often take the space of several minutes before getting back into the “regular” tone of the band. On “Unter Tage,” No Sun Rises dedicates this build-up of atmosphere to the entire first half of this track. Only with acoustic guitar and Nicole’s voice, memorable melodies are set up and smoothly work towards a progression of this track. This then takes place when we cut back right into a heavily strong Black Metal tone that follows the tradition of the first track. Especially the cathartic elements in the riffing on this track takes up the constructed soundscape and leads this track to a strong climax.

On the third track “Tanz im Fahlen Lichte,” the song structure and sound relates back to the first track “NebellebeN” and we’re able to get more straightforward Black Metal. However, this style of Black Metal is no longer as clear-cut as on the first track and delivers different, rather multi-layered guitar tracks. If you did not get enough on the opener, this is your chance to feed on even more strong and freezing Black Metal. The final track “In Trockener Erde” then opens up with an entire Folk-ish soundscape, including a duet of a male and a female voice, instruments that construct a medieval framework. This intro track is delivered by Tüül and once more goes right for memorability, just as the first half on “Unter Tage” already did. We feel as if we got a little closer to the woods with this sequence. After 4 minutes of melancholic beauty, No Sun Rises’ Black Metal sound then picks up the listener. On this track, the tone slightly alters again, though. I wouldn’t call this Norwegian Black Metal as I did when having talked about the first track. This sound has an immensely strong Blackgaze influence. The riffing differs to a certain extent, thus presenting progression on this record. The all-encompassing, rich and culminating sound of this final track perfectly rounds off this album.

So far, the album was self-released both on CD as well as on cassette tape by the band. Apart from that, there is an upcoming vinyl release that will be delivered by Alerta Antifascista Records. It is not yet clear when this pressing will hit sale, though, so better keep your eyes open. The album was recorded, mixed and mastered by Fabian Schulz at Sunsetter Recording Studio.

The Black Metal tone that is presented on this album as well as its progression throughout the four tracks combined with the Folk and warm elements that make up the framework of Harmisod all add up to a strongly convincing release. As mentioned in the beginning, the expectations that were carried into this release were fully met. This continues the tone of No Sun Rises and serves as natural progression of their sound, blending both the daring approach taking strong influences from Folk that was present on Dominium Terrae and the major interest of experimenting with the ferocity of Black Metal that was showcased on Ascent / Decay. Harmisod is the enriched culmination of sounds that bloomed throughout the history of No Sun Rises.

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