Nucleus Torn - Knell
Acoustic Folk, Doom Metal
4 songs (56:03)
Release year: 2008
Nucleus Torn, Prophecy
Reviewed by Goat

It’s not often that you come across a band that consists of two vocalists, a drummer, a flutist, a cellist and a violinist, as well as mastermind Fredy Schnyder who takes care of (deep breath) piano, organ, guitars, bass, hammered dulcimer, recorder, Irish bouzouki, oud, and the all-encompassing ‘percussion’ that could be anything from King Crimsonesque Jazz to Slipknottic hitting-a-drum-with-a-baseball-bat. In terms of what this motley crew actually sound like they’re much closer to the former than the latter, moving between ambience and grandiosity frequently over the course of Knell, which is only the band’s second album.

What stops this from being as perfect as it sounds is the sheer unwieldiness of it. The album is split into four untitled tracks, ranging from four minutes to over twenty-nine minutes in length, and if there’s anything that puts people off their acoustic folk it’s looooong tracks. Knell thus tends to revolve around III, the monster itself, even though I and II are great listens (at eight and fourteen minutes respectively) and it really is the type of album that demands that you listen to the whole thing all the way through.

If you’re still reading, there’s much to like about Knell if you have the patience. The instrumentation is superb, instruments sliding softly over each other to create a genuinely naturalistic sound, with added touches of ambient wind here and there working wonders. Throughout the album there does seem to be a heavy-handed quiet/loud dynamic, but for once it’s the quiet moments that are the best, gentle - at times almost Neoclassical - Folk that can be very affecting indeed if you enjoy music of this sort. The Doom Metal moments come infrequently and are loud and epic, dipping into the more melodic end of Black Metal without actually touching it (there are no screams or blastbeats whatsoever). Both male and female vocalists rarely seem to stay in tune but this works in the album’s favour, giving it that genuine folksy feel that suggests you’ve just wandered into a gypsy campsite rather than an opera house.

As a famous person once said, writing about music is like dancing about architecture, and Nucleus Torn is no exception. If you pick this up looking for some Korpiklaanic party music you’ll be very disappointed, but if you give it your full attention once everyone’s gone home and you’re sitting alone in your favourite armchair, then there’s much enjoyment to be had from Knell.

Killing Songs :
Album as a whole
Goat quoted 80 / 100
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