Noumena – Anima (Haunted Zoo Productions)Tuesday, 8th September 2020
Truly one of metal’s great mysteries is how Noumena is perpetually left in the dark by much of the metal underground, after producing some of the finest melodeath/doom of the ‘00s (both Absence and Anatomy of Life are genuine treasures) and continuing onwards with a surprisingly consistent catalog ever since. Anima is the band’s sixth full-length, following up on 2018’s Myrrys, and continues with the excellent bear-related artwork and dives into some even gloomier waters.
Continuing with the folky, woodsy atmosphere that the band is glorious in capturing, Anima is as riddled by melancholy as it is by beautifully done melodies. Dreary and heavy riffs batter the landscape, but done with a massive dose of longing and contemplation instead of aggression. The music is quick to shift gears into quieter waters as needed, and the duo vocals of the growling Antti Haapanen and occasional female singing from Suvi Uura suits the mood without drawing up the usual ‘beauty and the beast’ vocal comparisons. The centerpiece of the album has to be the 15-minute “Totuus,” which acts as a compelling journey in and of itself. There’s a gradual buildup at the onset, and it makes use of its lengthy runtime with no shortage of jawdroppingly gorgeous melodies and breaks into acoustic/folk moments, extended solos, and more while balancing the band’s heavy/gentle landscapes with care. Around minute 13 is an ethereal moment that really provides maximum payoff – a real treat to be had. Closing track, the quiet “Joutsen” also captures a bit of magic too with a gloomy vibe with potent strings and Uura’s voice at the forefront. Entirely sorrowful, but utterly enthralling.
At this point, Noumena should be standing neck and neck with some of the other gloomy Finnish greats (Swallow the Sun, Insomnium, Amorphis) with their impressive catalog. Anima adds another shining notch to the band’s belt in a way that delivers melancholy with just a small dollop of hope to the mix and many standout melodies, both folky and metallic.