Developing a different style in a well-established subgenre such as black metal is a brave move. In a time when playing faster and louder is a trend, the Finnish musician Tuomas Kauppinen walks a different path by keeping a generally slow pace. The album “Atmosfear” by his one-man band NOBODY was released via Inverse Records on 26 June 2020. The juxtaposition of acoustic guitar and harsh whispered vocals is still the main characteristic of NOBODY’s trademark sound, as much as the lyrical themes – occultism, demons, and sex magick, once again in a Crowleyan perspective. As a subgenre, it can still be labeled as “acoustic black metal,” even though an evolution in the structure of the songs is visible, when compared to the previous work, the EP ”Gospel of the Goat.”
The seventeen tracks are quite short in duration (the longest one lasts approximately 3 minutes), but end up with being very intense in terms of the narrative power of music and words combined together.
After a short intro, first tune ”Stronger than Blood” begins with a famous quote: “I’m the devil and I’m here to do the devil’s business.” The song is, in fact, about how a single man’s charisma can brainwash and manipulate people’s minds more than a bond of blood could ever do. The guitar work has a dominant folkish feature, which makes the song particularly approachable.
The following song, ”Ruthless Vicar,” is as powerful as soft at the same time, and also kinda short: two minutes of atmospheric and eerie sounds, paired with a subdued and quite scary whispered vocal style.
The verses of ”Anubis, pt.1” resemble a scary nursery rhyme, which would surely give a child (but also an adult) the worst nightmares ever. ”Anubis, pt.2” highlights the anxiety-inducing features and ends up with dragging the listeners in a downward spiral towards ancient gods’ visions where they look as real as anyone. As an homage to the marquis De Sade, the man behind NOBODY wrote a song called ”The Dark Marquis,” which has a strong folkish vibe and a quite fast pace, compared to the previous songs.
Track number seven, ”The Great Stink,” begins with a haunting organ sound, paired with a deep voice from beyond the grave: the song is about the plague in London. At that time, the Thames river was full of dead bodies, the air smelled like hell on earth, hence a big part of the city had to be evacuated. A sense of horror is clearly detectable throughout the whole tune, as a reminder of the fragility of human condition.
The following tune, called ”Unholy Intoxication,” has a strong dark and folkish vibe, where the peculiar guitar technique gives its best, in spite of the short duration of the song. The title track, ”Atmosfear,” is equally eerie and catchy in its structure, while the lyrical theme is about one of the aftermaths of a pandemic: are we really able to deal with ourselves, when isolation becomes a fact? I would say that this can be considered as a red thread in this album; some sort of a meditative feeling about the human condition in times like this does make ”Atmosfear” a rather significant piece of art, as an example of what 2020 is pulling out of mankind.
The next two songs, ”Dreams and Imagination” and ”Lover’s Lament” (technically three, since ”Dreams and Imagination” consists of two parts) deal with the oneiric dimension as a place where we could get in touch with our deeper self and the disintegration of it. Musically speaking, the two parts of ”Dreams and Imagination” could not be more different – the first one has some kind of a lullaby vibe also concerning the singing style, while the second one has a relatively fast paced strumming and more aggressive vocals.
On the other hand, ”Lover’s Lament” begins with a spoken-word part and the sound of a drum, giving the whole thing a ritualistic feeling. It’s just a one-minute song, but it does leave a mark. With”Orgasm of Blasphemy” the artist manages to give his best in terms of contrasts in the song pattern – slower moments and more energetic ones combine and create a good blackened folk song, where the harsh vocals, once again, work as a hallmark of NOBODY’s production.
The following song, ”Uncontainable,” can be labeled as an interlude, due to its structure and dissonance, and leads directly to the next tune. The final track, divided in two parts, is ”Visionary.” It’s an ode to the English poet William Blake – as someone who was able to see other dimensions, nowadays he would be probably considered as insane and institutionalised. The blackened folk feature is present in these two tracks, too, and especially in part two, both spoken word and harsh vocals contribute to make the songs unique in terms of style. ”Atmosfear” is an outro, which ends up with being one of the eeriest tracks on this album, summarizing the whole experience.
I feel the duty to recommend not only ”Atmosfear,” but also the previous EP that NOBODY has released, to anyone who’s curious and eager to discover how diverse and original black metal can be, even more than 30 years after its inception. Of course, keep an eye on the next releases: NOBODY’s creativity is unstoppable, and the man behind the band surely has something in store for the near future, if there is one…
Written by Licia Mapelli
- Stronger than Blood
- Ruthless Vicar
- Anubis, pt. 1
- Anubis, pt. 2
- The Dark Marquis
- The Great Stink
- Unholy Intoxication
- Dreams and Imagination, pt. 1
- Dreams and Imagination, pt. 2
- Lover’s Lament
- Orgasm of Blasphemy
- Visionary, pt. 1
- Visionary, pt. 2
Tuomas Kauppinen – All instruments