Celestiial – Where Life Springs Eternal

Studies show that even looking at pictures of nature is good for one’s health. (See here and here.) So how about listening to it? Is it time to hit the nature sounds CD section at Target?

Celestiial spare you that embarassment. Their first album, Desolate North, was literally the sound of a cold forest. Dulcet streams and chirping birds melded with clean tones that evoked dripping icicles. The record melted cares away, so to speak. “Chilling out” took on new meaning.

Where Life Springs Eternal (Bindrune, 2010) is slightly harsher, but ultimately just as soothing. Instead of a clear January morning, the setting is a December blizzard. The tones are more distorted, though nature’s soundtrack (wind, water, etc.) buffers them. Adding to the sonic fullness is Agalloch’s Jason Walton on bass. He underpins big, open-sounding chords – fifths, to be technical. The intro to Madonna’s “Live to Tell” works the same way. Pick hits string, and horizons expand.

But amidst the windswept landscape rises a beacon of clarity: harp (or something that sounds like it). It plucks out respite, conjuring Burzum – not the racist murderer, but the lonely soul. Few write volk songs like Vikernes. Celestiial make his celestial bent terrestrial. The stars are gods, which are semi-mortal forms who walk this land. Apollo, the god of music, played the lyre. Perhaps Ares sold him a distortion pedal.

These are all mechanics. They dissolve into the big picture. When I hear this record – that is, enter its world and exit this one – a brief time of adjustment makes me think: “Madonna, Burzum, Nocturno Culto’s goofy DVD“. But then I acclimate. I experience winter without having to live it. Cold, slow, not-so-grim: doctors should be prescribing this.

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— Cosmo Lee

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THIS CONTEST IS CLOSED.

I’m giving away promo CD’s of Celestiial, Nechochwen (reviewed here), and Blood of the Black Owl. To enter, simply suggest a musical act(s), metal or not, that’s similar in spirit to Celestiial. Leave suggestions in the comments box, along with any relevant links. The winner, who will get all three CD’s, is the one who suggests the best act that’s new to me. Entries shall cease at midnight EST, Thursday, April 29.

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Amazon (CD)
Bindrune (CD)
Interview @ Stereogum