Let’s clear one thing up straight away, shall we? Momenta Quintae Essentiae (Prophecy Productions), the fourth album from Herefordshire one-man outfit Nhor, is in no way a Metal album. There’s nothing in the way of Rock either. This is ‘Funeral Classical’ delivered by an occasional Blackened Doom dabbler, and is utterly stunning.
In the right hands the piano is a marvellous instrument. When played sparingly or with the accent firmly set on piquing the emotions, its every strike is ice cold and chills the soul. In Nhor’s grasp it is caressed and relieved of its pain in the most memorable, haunting fashion: opener ‘Luna Oritur’ tugging at every heartstring, not with sickly sentiment but with stark reality. It’s the first surprise of an album mistakenly expected to provide an element of brutal malevolence.
The ensuing ‘Nosce Te Ipsum’ continues under the ivory influence, yet is accompanied by mournful cello and a Folk-style acoustic guitar to provide a truly affecting space. ‘Contra Ventum’ is even more moving, the brittle keys played at that funereal pace and, at this high pitch, shattering the cocooning silence like a shooting star across a night sky. Here a vocal line from the artist, brief yet sweetly harmonic, is so subtly delivered yet, such is its effect, it screams sporadically through the pulsing strings for six minutes of crushing, delicate beauty. The minutely quicker ‘Hedera’ and poignant closer ‘Ante Primam Lucem’ maintain that emotive feel with a heartfelt and perfectly arranged duel between the piano and returning guitar: the former painting pastel Latin pictures; the latter seeing a return of those faint, brief yet telling intonations.
The man himself regards this as the “Purest Nhor album to date” and a true reflection of nature. Incredibly evocative, lip-trembling yet conversely soothing, it will be insultingly referred to in certain quarters as a chillout album, when it is very far from that. An exercise in empathy, catharsis and expression of pain, it is a challenging listen yet one of the most beautiful, affecting things you’re likely to hear.
Bollocks to that. At least for a little while…
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