Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Njiqahdda - "The Path Of Liberation From Birth And Death" (2011) [Pagan Flames Records]

How fitting it is to write a Njiqahdda review shortly after a Benighted in Sodom review. For those of you who haven't heard of Njiqahdda, this hyper-prolific experimental black metal act, hailing from the greater Chicago, Illinois, area, has released albums ranging from Death in June-like neofolk all the way to hour-long drone/noise escapades. This year alone Njiqahdda has released two full-length records and four EPs, and this author knows firsthand that there is no stopping Njiqahdda just yet (be sure to check back in a few weeks for my review of the new Oaks of Bethel double album!).

Njiqahdda has always been one for challenging their listening base with unusual sound experiments, whether it be lengthy drone piece, noise, field recordings, strange vocal styles (listen closely and you can hear a lot of throat singing throughout their discography), but where does one go after taking black metal as far as you think you can? Well, obviously, you push it further, which is exactly what The Path of Liberation from Birth and Death is. This album is absolutely ridiculous, and most of the time I wouldn't even call it black metal. Here we see Njiqahdda forgoing the "majestic" black metal style of which they championed for something much more progressive and, dare I say, technical. There are points on this album where I am almost convinced I'm listening to some lost post-Obscura pre-From Wisdom To Hate Gorguts demos, and others where things get rather Mastodon-y (not that sounding like Mastodon is bad at all). Everything is jagged, phasing in and out of harmony and chaotic dissonance, maybe even jazzy at times.

The track that stands out from the chaos is by far the 25-minute "Universal Form Replaced With Despondent Chaos." This melodic juggernaut is rather reminiscent of the Valsuarpormiis EP, of which I reviewed back in October. This mammoth track features epic, droning guitars, mournful vocals, and, at times, folky acoustic guitar leads. Hell, there's even some theremin on this song! For those of you who are frightened by this new, technical side of Njiqahdda, this track is still rather stylistically similar to older material.

Njiqahdda's use of V-drums (NOT A DRUM MACHINE) has always been a bit of a deal-breaker for could-be fans, but, surprise! This album uses acoustic drums, so feel free to listen to this one without hesitation! I'm sure Njiqahdda wouldn't mind that you only listen to their album with "real" drums, no matter how expensive it is to own your own real drum set (/sarcasm). Fair-weather fans suck; listen to the rest of the discography. Get into this. Now.



  1. Good review Jon, this is truly one of the year's best albums. I interviewed / and he's said that Njiqahdda have never used a drum machine though (sorry to be nit-picking).


  3. Ha, I knew that, too. Fix'd for clarity.

    Support the band and label that released this masterpiece!

    Njiqahdda - The Path of Liberation from Birth and Death CD

    Only $8 here:


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