Extreme, dark, black – all words that are thrown around to describe the sort of sound Swedish Metallers Netherbird are creating, but what about melodic, powerful, melancholic? Because for me, these are the words that should come first - especially with this their second full album and apparently their first as a ‘band’ as distinct from just a studio entity.
Starting with the keyboard and strings instrumental intro Looming Majesty before launching into White Noise Sky In Overdrive with the haunting refrain of the strings still intact just transformed to a massive guitar sound. Netherbird surprised me with their sense of pop, their ability to keep the melody intact. The driving rhythm of ex-Paradise Lost/At The Gates drummer Adrian Erlandsson and the powerful fretwork of guitarists Bizmark and Johan Nord still have the bite and grunt to satisfy any fan of the darker arts.
The whole album is like that, moments of atmosphere, glimpses of melancholia before the band steps forward to punch you in the throat with a powerful, clenched fist of sound while still maintaining the hook, the rhythm and melody – these are songs you could almost hum (as long as you don’t mind gargling blood).
And while there is something tried and true about the bell tolling in In The Eyes Of Time and the keyboards at the start of Strindbergian Fire, there are other touches - the shared female vocals on The Weight Of Vapours, the melodies and piano, the choral voices that trickle thru Across The Chasm that more than make up for these formulaic moments.
Vocalist Nephente doesn't just let loose with screams from hell; he holds the notes, he sings damn it and it makes a difference! I won’t claim to be any sort of expert in the field of black metal, hell I’m just an old man who likes what he hears here, but this is a band that knows how to put together a song, that knows how to work within the genre and still add their own touches. They surprised me, they just might do the same to you.
Netherbird's Monument Black Colossal is out now on Soundpollution/Riot.