Finnish melodic death metal veterans NOUMENA have recently released their sixth studio album, “Anima,” on 4 September 2020 via their own label, Haunted Zoo Productions. This newest release is dubbed darker and more melancholic than ever. Perfect for autumn with themes of death and loss, this ambitious record is very emotional and relatable for everyone who has dealt with grief in one way or another.
Before I mention anything else, just look at that gorgeous album cover. I wouldn’t mind hanging a huge print of it on my living room wall. The imagery fits the album’s themes perfectly, and elevated what were already high expectations in my book. The bear from the previous album cover seems to have passed on to the next world, its soul a phoenix rising from the ashes. Let’s find out if this is a metaphor for where the album will take us.
Moving on to opener “Kaiku,” with its wistful choirs accompanied by velvety acoustic melodies, I relax in my seat and open my mind to the journey NOUMENA has in store. Soon, we are met with Suvi Uura‘s other-worldly vocals in “Saatto,” like a haunting ghost from the past. The sheer melancholy in her voice invites the listener to reminisce, contrasting yet complimenting the gloomy guitars and thundering drums. When Antti Haapanen comes in with his signature growls, the two collide into a darkly beautiful whole. It simply works.
From the start it becomes crystal clear that this is quite the bold record. NOUMENA strays from their trusted path, but does so intricately and intelligently. At no point does the sound become tedious or overly repetitive, whilst keeping up the sheer emotionality and trancelike vibe of the album. “Murtuneet” reminds me of a blend between INSOMNIUM and AMORPHIS, easily one of the most memorable tracks on “Anima.”
Fans of the earliest hour, who prefer the band’s heavier work, can find a connection to “Seula,” and especially fifteen minute epic “Totuus.” The latter, with its dramatic guitar leads and many tempo shifts, is an ode to yearning and deep contemplation that draws you in and doesn’t let you go until the very last note. “Joutsen,” the piano ballad that closes the album, moved me to the verge of tears.
The one thing I can most confidently state when it comes to this latest record, is that NOUMENA has polished their sound to near perfection. “Anima” delves more into folk than previous work, a change to embrace considering how well it works for the concept. The instrumentals in particular ooze folk, whilst at the same time never stray too far from melodic death metal. Yet there is still more to “Anima,” leading us into proggy waters that make me excited for the future of this versatile, innovative band. Chilling yet comforting, this release is an unexpected gust of wind on a cold autumn night, that has you hurrying inside for a hot drink in front of a fireplace.
Written by Jana De Boeck
Antti Haapanen – Vocals
Suvi Uura – Vocals
Ville Lamminaho – Guitar
Tuukka Tuomela – Guitar
Markus Hirvonen – Guitar, vocals
Hannu Savolainen – Bass
Ilkka Unnbom – Drums
Haunted Zoo Productions