Nebula Orionis - Soulshard
Casus Belli Musica
Atmospheric Black Metal
5 songs (22' 16")
Release year: 2018
Reviewed by Andy

Previously unknown to me, one-man Russian atmospheric black metal project Nebula Orionis released its new EP, Soulshard, this past March. Its tinkly keyboard effects on top of its heavily processed guitar almost made me write it off as a Lustre clone (there's someone who's inspired enough by that project to want to clone it?) at the first listen. However, it doesn't take long before it becomes clear that there is a more solid feel to the sound than first appears, not to mention the fact that M42, the man behind Nebula Orionis, knows how to give some direction to the songs rather than just getting lost in ambient noodling.

The "dude in a basement with a computer and a cheap guitar" vibe is strong here, but not offensively so. There's a sharp difference between the ethereal keyboard and the guitar distortion, the vocals are added almost as if they're an afterthought, and the drumming is as bloodless and mechanized as its player. But the songwriting draws the listener in: Crystal's steady plodding isn't a bad listen, and the Agalloch-like mid-tempo on Monument is also pleasant to hear. Fragments, on the other hand, is more akin to a faster version of a Summoning or Midnight Odyssey track. Like the former, it has mechanized tremolo picking in the background that gives it texture, though it is not as downbeat; but it has a cold core of darkwave way down below the icing of piano that decorates the uplifting melody.

Soulshard makes for only a few data points sampling what Nebula Orionis can do, but as small ABM projects go, it's more hit than miss. Fragments is definitely the best track on there (alas, also the shortest), though several of the others are also above average.


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