Nox Formulae seek to stretch knowledge, consciousness on mystifying ‘The Hidden Paths…’

Nox FormulaeAs death and black metals progress, so do the thinking behind them. While a good, rough bludgeoning of power for its sake still works most of the time, intellectual and spiritual elements also have taken hold and pushed the boundaries beyond the physical plane.

So it is with a band such as Nox Formulae, whose music is more a pathway for something greater than themselves, that we find ourselves in this terrain again. The band considers its debut “The Hidden Paths to Black Ecstasy” more of a book of black magic than a traditional record, and even their platform for their sounds is, and I quote them, “an emanation of the well of N.O.X, the darkest aspect of the Draconian /Typhonian Principle which applies to the mystical Black Magical Formula of XONOX.” If you’d like, head off for an extensive Google search to even begin to fully grasp their mission as part of a sect of Luciferian fanaticism, the goal of which is to bring the Ruler of Atlantis into the human subconscious. That might seem like a lot to absorb and take on if you’re not already well versed in their spiritual thinking, but the music on this record sure will bring you where you need to be.

Nox Formulae coverThe band itself is very much a mystery. They list five members—Monkshood 333, Nightshade, and Kurgasiaz all on vocals, Wolfsbane 1.1 on guitars, and Mezkal on drums—but beyond that, we can’t find out much about their histories or other works, if they have any at all. But no matter, this Greek band’s terrifying, mystifying music seeks to push the listener to explore their sub-consciousness and seek answers from entities beyond the physical. Just listening to the music also is acceptable, and in doing so, you might find yourself pushed past your means anyway.

“NOXON” starts the record with strange winds and a creaky dampness that lifts the lid on the record and sets the stage for “The Shadow Smoke,” which charges right out of the blackness. Eerie overtones and scraping growls head into swirling soundscapes and portions that seem hell bent on altering your mind. Disorienting madness continues to rise, with the sounds sucked into a horrific vortex. “Nahemoth Death Plane” has doomy guitars, sounds hovering, and the tempo eventually pushed into higher gear. The vocals again chew away at your brain, while melodies cascade, chants rain down, and the song ends in a scary bit of hypnosis. “Voudon Lwa Legba” obliterates at the start, bringing chaos and fire before shifting into a prog-fueled sequence that shifts and sweeps. Savagery is right around the bend as jagged guitars, warbled speaking, and otherworldly chants bring the song to its end.

“Dark Brother,” the first song ever created by Nox Formulae, has bubbling riffs, strange chanted vocals, and a tempo that speeds up suddenly, leading to unleashing of crazed growls and shrieks. Everything suddenly is pushed into insanity, as the song finally hits calm and melts away. “Yezidic NOX Formula” has guitars smeared, the vocals feeling like they’re straight out of a nightmare, and a panic-inducing rumbling that pushes its way into your cell structure. “O.D. Dominion” is something much different, as psyche-smeared guitars unfold, and the whole thing feels like it’s inducing a trance. Just as you’re about to submit, the terror returns, and the music tried to tear the flesh from your bones. “Hidden Clan” deals crunch and strangeness right away, and things don’t deviate very much. The place lights up and pounds away, while wild howls ignite, grimness is all around, and the chants echo in the air, feeling like they’re spinning all around you. Closer “XONOX” is the ideal bookend, finishing the record with more winds, tribal drumming, and the music disappearing into the night.

Nox Formulae have a mission far beyond what we can understand on an Earthly level, and “The Hidden Paths to Black Ecstasy” certainly is one of the strangest albums of this year. Whether you seek to push your mind to the places the band explores is up to you, and if you choose to do so, this music provides a raucous channel for doing so. Either way, Nox Formulae provide ritualistic concoctions that go well past normal black metal boundaries, something that’s always welcome.

For more on the band, go here: https://www.facebook.com/NoxFormulae/

To buy the album, go here: http://www.darkdescentrecords.com/store

For more on the label, go here: http://www.darkdescentrecords.com/

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Mystery-shrouded Aum explore spiritual terrain, life and death on hypnotic debut ‘Om Ah Hum…’

AumMixing the fury of death metal with more spiritual and intellectual themes is not totally a foreign concept. It’s been done before, though it’s kind of a rarity in these parts. But that doesn’t mean you can’t expect to mix utter brutality with themes that demand more from your brain, and when done right, it can be a stimulating version of this extreme art form.

We turn toward French mystery Aum for more on this idea, as the music and themes on their debut “Om Ah Hum Vajra Guru Padma Siddhi Hum,” which is basically a Buddhist chant that roughly translates to “I invoke you, Vajra Guru, Padmasambhava, by your blessing may you grant us ordinary and supreme realization,” pushes spiritual boundaries. Digging into the mysteries and rituals of Buddhism is at the center here, and I don’t claim to have enough knowledge of this terrain to explain any further, but it doesn’t take much time with the music to fall under its power. The record itself is a journey to understand the experience of life through death on both physical and astral planes, and while the content may go over some heads, the basic understanding can be had. On the crudest level, it’s spacious, blackened death metal that stretches you mind and body, and when this nameless, faceless entity is done with you, you’re bound to be exhausted with all that you’ve just encountered.

Aum cover“Moksha” begins the record, ripping away at your senses with clubbing madness and guttural growls. The track feels like it’s doling out violence, but then we head into chant-like throat warbling that seems to indicate another agenda. Doom slips into the room as banshee wails are unleashed, the tempo grinds and chugs, and another round of chants brings the song to an end. “Patisandhi” is gritty and lurching, with growls bubbling to the surface and the guitars boiling and giving off heat. The tempo switches back and forth between aggressive and calm, with the final moments dressed in bells ringing and whispered words. “Dattatreya” leads off with a strong, burly riff, moving into creaking growls and, eventually, the song tearing open. From there, the sound is pure demolition, with the music splattering and more monstrous growls surfacing. “Dukkha” also starts with chants before the brutality kicks in. Grim growls meet up with a mind-altering pace that mixes in with the heavy sludge. The leads burn while the tempo grinds, and toward the end, murky, weird synth rolls in as the whole thing slows down and bleeds away.

“Brahmastra” is a wrecker right away, hammering and unleashing infernal growls that are nasty and smashing. The soloing goes off as the beastly assault leads to another eruption of power and chants that would chill your brain cells. “Hemvati” lets the chants spill over as riffs swirl in the air, speed arrives, and the growls seem like they’re spat out. The song jerks to an abrupt halt, making you think it has ended prematurely, but then it flows back in, lets the blackness unfurl, and slithers away hypnotically. Closer “Vipashyana” begins with Sabbath-style doom sinew before opening up into the track’s main chambers, where ugly riffs and charred sentiments await. The growls get deeper and muddier, while the track hulks along slowly, the drums crush everything, and eerie soundscape bring the record to its end.

You’re going to feel physically and mentally challenged at the end of “Om Ah Hum Vajra Guru Padma Siddhi Hum,” but that’s a good thing. Aum keep you invested and working throughout these seven songs, and their ultimate destination should be a place of higher understanding both for them and you. If you just want to immerse yourself in cavernous death metal, that’s also acceptable. But those who push beyond that ultimately are going to be the ones who gain the most from this record.

To buy the album, go here: http://shop.ironbonehead.de/en/

For more on the label, go here: http://www.ironbonehead.de/