ALBUM REVIEW: Arcana Coelestia ‘Nomas’

arcana coelestia

ARCANA COELESTIA
‘Nomas’
Avantgarde Music
(Released: 20 October 2014)
7/10

This Italian band is named after a 250-year-old work (trans. Secrets of Heaven) by Swedish scientist and theologian Emanuel Swedenborg which explores the spiritual meanings behind the early books of the Bible. Essentially, it is an analysis of humanity and individual struggle, which seems oddly fitting considering that due to personal problems this album took four years to record.

Formed in Cagliari, Italy in 2005 as a black/doom metal band, Arcana Coelestia began to introduce dreamy soundscapes on their 2009 debut ‘Le Mirage de L’ideal’. Today, they combine these three elements, drawing on the talents of new singer RM (Dea Marica, Aphronic Threnody) and keyboard twiddler Kostas Panagiotou (Pantheist, Wijlen Wij).

The band’s identity is in its mercurial shifts of pace and temperament. There is a huge diversity within each of these five songs (all titled Nomas I, Nomas II, etc), and while the fast sections will scythe the flesh from your bones like blackened blades, the slower, atmospheric parts will then proceed to disassemble your skeleton and disperse the bones to the far corners of the universe. There are also a few delicate, swirling bits to allow you to catch your breath.

RM’s vocals are similarly contrasting, switching from glorious to sinister to manic and back again in the blink of an eye. The continual changes from melancholy to chaos are quite dizzying. Arcana Coelestia deliver a volatile and unpredictable mix, which is either an unsettling frustration or exactly what you want from extreme music – depending on your perspective. There are certainly examples where the changes are well managed: ‘Nomas IV’, for example, opens like a thunderstorm before morphing into a rumbling, synth-backed doom dirge on an epic scale, before building to a cataclysmic finale.

Arcana Coelestia are a doom hurricane, an overwhelming blast of emotion. They are blessed with an accomplished an well-balanced sound, helped by good production to marry together the competing elements of fierce black metal guitars and rich keyboards. ‘Nomas’ may have taken four years to finally get off the ground, but it has lost none of its energy and impact during those frustrating times. Arcana Coelestia explore not only the secrets of heaven, but also the mysteries of earth and hell too. And it’s a wild ride.

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