The Fifth Season
posted on 3/2009 By:
Their bio claims that they’re “making slow and boring even more slow and boring.” Thankfully, Nanda Devi are a bunch of rotten liars and Fifth Season is neither particularly slow, nor is it boring. Now if I was to lazily state that these guys are simply another in a long line of acts taking their cue from the likes of Isis, Cult of Luna etc. or dare utter the ‘p’ word, at best you’ll probably roll your eyes in complete indifference or at worst, want to throw a shoe in my general direction. So instead I’m going to point how this band is different from your typical Neur-Isis clone and why you should bother with Fifth Season. The most obvious thing to point out is the vocals. The combined efforts of bassist Ryan Whyte and guitarist Aaron Schomaker are easily the nastiest, most harrowing and evil-sounding vocals I’ve heard from a band of this type. Aaron Turner may have sounded quite gruff on those early Isis records but he’s got nothing on the growls, shrieks and howls that Nanda Devi offer up. It really is their standout element and gives the band a darker, more visceral edge than their contemporaries.
The other aspect of Fifth Season that impresses me is how tight it is. Out of the eight tracks, three are brief, untitled segues. Whereas on other albums such passages are often absolutely useless, here they have a genuine ‘what comes next?’ feel and actually serve their purpose of linking the main songs together. As a result, weightier numbers like “Abandoned By the Sun” and the excellent “Blood and Iron” are more easily digestible and hence enjoyable. As much as I love my plodding, atmospheric metal, it’s a sad fact that I rarely have the time or energy to invest in a seventy-minute concept album, so to have Nanda Devi do their business with me in less than forty is a real plus. Also, the fact that these guys don’t have the same level of innovation or full-on artistry as their peers is another reason why the modest, streamlined approach of Fifth Season serves them well.
Ironically, Nanda Devi are one of the bands I'd most readily suggest to those who normally find this particular strain of modern metal too 'slow and boring'. Fifth Season is by and large a dark, heavy and gutsy affair with some suitably haunting atmospherics thrown into the deal. It cleverly avoids some of the pitfalls that can dampen albums of this kind, thereby affording itself some real cross-genre appeal. There, and I didn’t mention ‘post-metal’ once.
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