Nemorensis – The Lady in the Lake (Sol y Nieve, 2014)


Nemorensis is about as obscure an entity as it gets these days; the band isn’t on Metal Archives and their Bandcamp page offers no biographical information whatsoever, with only a “USA” tag betraying their country of origin.  As far as I can tell, said page is their only internet presence, making them truly inscrutable in an era where every band no matter how big or small seems to be waging full-on Facebook/Twitter/Instagram/etc war in order to gain listeners.   Their music is an equally enigmatic brew of baleful ambience and lo-fi black metal, making The Lady in the Lake, their debut for up-and-coming cassette label Sol y Nieve that much more intriguing.

Comprised of a single twenty-seven minute track, The Lady in the Lake is an exercise in minimalism, and yet it is also stunningly dynamic. The song begins with quietly droning synths which slowly begin to congeal into an eerie melody, while voices that resemble the anguished moaning of restless spirits fade in and out of the mix.  It’s easy to close your eyes and imagine the titular Lady rising out of the blackness of some long forgotten lagoon to haunt its abandoned moonlit shores.

The guitars enter the mix around the seven-minute-and-thirty-second mark, their creeping distortion a cloak of unearthly despair to enshroud the Lady as she makes her way around the desolate embankments that surround her watery grave.  Eventually, a tremolo riff takes shape, accompanied by echoing, raw-throated screams, the Lady overcome with the heartache of centuries, followed by a hypnotic pattern of string bends and swirling synths embodying her defiance.  But this quickly subsides, replaced by subtle keys and the sounds of gently flowing water.  An almost tribal-sounding drum beat comes to the fore, along with acoustic guitars and clean-chanted vocals, signaling a return to serenity.

The distorted guitars and screams re-enter at around the twenty-two minute mark, the Lady making one last stand against the coming daybreak before being forced to return to her aquatic entombment. At last, all that remains is the rippling black water from which she came, vanished without a trace until the next sunset frees her from her sodden bonds at the bottom of the lake.

As much as I crave knowledge when it comes to the music I love, there’s a part of me that hopes we never find out who’s truly behind The Lady in the Lake.  Although the music would still be utterly fascinating, I can’t help but feel as if something would be lost if we were ever to see the man behind the curtain.  Nemorensis, whoever they may be, have created a black metal album shrouded in true mystery and wonder, something I wasn’t sure was still possible.


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