Lustre – They Awoke to the Scent of Spring
Release: LP, 2012 (De Tenebrarum Principio)
Genre: Ambient Black Metal
Sonic Brethren: Summoning, Darkspace, Earth
Lustre, a one-man project from central Sweden, has been churning out slices of black metal ambience very regularly for the past 4 years. Under the moniker Nachzeit, Henrik Sunding is a 20-something who knows what he wants to create, knows what he’s good at, and sticks damn well to it. His first demo was out only a few months before being picked up by De Tenebrarum Principio and Henrik has never looked back, consistently putting out quality releases on a regular basis.
They Awoke to the Scent of Spring, Lustre’s third full-length, is slightly disfigured and re-arranged compared to his other works. It takes the time to separate the metal drone-ings from the hypnotic mesmerizations; both combining them and splicing them equally across four tracks. Parts 1 and 2 — called thusly, as very few of his songs have actual titles — are fairly standard Lustre affairs. They dwell on reverb and gain-heavy strumming; atmospheric black metal drawn out to its absolute extreme with forsaken grim vocals shimmering through the beautiful dark. The dozen-minute long songs are slightly more guitar-oriented than his previous full-length tracks. Nachzeit’s signature bubbly synthesizer does make an appearance, but you’ll have to be patient before you hear its familiar voice.
Parts 3 and 4 are stripped down meditations, very likely acting as homage’s to Sunding’s non-metal influences. Devoid of vocals and any hint of heavy instrumentation, Part 3 focuses more on a hypnotic interplay between synth and clean guitar, waiting to be peppered with sparse percussion. 4 takes this even a step further, losing all natural instruments and focusing on field recordings of a rainstorm, dripping with a Sigur Ros-ian slowness that feels trapped inside a dreamworld.
The stark contract between the two halves of the album is beautifully striking, but feels slightly off balance. With the unique qualities of each so separated, They Awoke to the Scent of Spring feels like a journey into the wilderness done backwards, with the crescendo coming early and the mellow introduction falling at the end. It’s a risky arrangement for a genre that tends to intermingle the two influences, and it ends up feeling a bit tedious. Not that either of the two halves are uninteresting or poorly executed, they simply feel too different to be released together. But Sundig is already hard at work at a new 19-minute MCD which sounds extremely promising.
Final thoughts: Starting off as one of Lustre’s strongest work to date, the LP’s sharp switch to non-metallic sounds is welcome, albeit slightly confounding.