When I read the announcement of a new album from the Nordic Giants it raised my interest, having previously reviewed their documentary/soundtrack project album Amplify Human Vibration for TPA and also a concert on their 2017 tour. The duo blew me away with their breadth and skill, on record and most certainly in the live setting, which convinced me that these guys have got something special. Their albums do not arrive that frequently, Symbiosis being only the second studio release since their 2015 debut, A Séance of Dark Delusions. The quality of what they produce can be heard across all these albums, well crafted and thoughtful music that speaks to each listener in its own unique way.
So to Symbiosis, an eight track album of mostly instrumental songs with just two featuring vocals and one with voice samples. They range in timings from four-and-a-half to just over seven-and-a-half minutes, but each track appears perfectly timed.
Nordic Giants Rôka and Löki have said of this release, “we start with a pure idea, we take all the emotions that live inside us, that we buried deep within the sub-consciousness mind and give them opportunity to shine through in musical form.” Never has such a statement from a band rung more true than that; here there are a wealth of emotions that the music is able to evoke within the listener. They go on to say, “much like our first album, Symbiosis is a multi-layered album, its going to be hard to understand the depth of emotion, or spirit of the album on the first listen or even the second.” Again true, as even though the first play will almost certainly grab you, each further play reveals layers and textures you may not have heard previously.
Each repeated listen takes you on a journey of further discovery through their unique musical world, which can be ambient and hypnotic at times, intercut with powerfully explosive moments. It is this dramatic cinematic feel that is the hook, but the textures, layers and subtleties contained within the music are more gradually revealed. This is certainly carefully crafted and constructed music, which along with their previous songs will no doubt transfer excellently into the live setting. It is this mindfulness to the live environment when writing that, I believe, helps create the high standards to be heard on this album.
Symbiosis grabs your attention from the get go with opening track Philosophy of Mind, a powerful demonstration of what the band are about, with spoken word samples over ambient sounds. Slowly it builds up to more powerful piano and drums which drive the song forward. This is followed by Anamorphia which again has an atmospheric start before drums and piano crash in, giving another emotional feel.
The beauty of the piano led Hjema, full of emotion and feeling, leads us to the first of the two songs with a guest vocalist. Faceless features the talents of Alex Hadley in a song of simplistic beauty which gradually and slowly builds to a grandiose ending. Alex’s voice delivers the lyrics in a way that gets straight into your mind and thoughts. There is some clever and wonderful stuff contained within this song.
Convergence leads us to the next vocal track, Spheres, where we get the opportunity to experience the wonderful and amazing voice of Freyja. Her vocals add an ethereal feel to a beautifully constructed song of mostly piano and drums.
Spires of Ascendency is another thought provoking tune, piano and keyboard led, joined by trumpet to create interest in another beautiful song. Finally we have Infinity which gradually develops to its conclusion, and it’s a fitting end to a great album.
Nordic Giants have used their ambient, psychedelic rock leanings to create a clearly focused piece of work, an album that demonstrates the continued development of their unique sound. Powerful and beautiful in equal measure, this is an album that will speak to many, current converts and new listeners alike. Give it a listen, and give it time; I don’t think you will be disappointed.
01. Philosophy of Mind (7:41)
02. Anamorphia (5:56)
03. Hjem (4:23)
04. Faceless (5:41)
05. Convergence (5:37)
06. Spheres (6:01)
07. Spires of Ascendency (4:27)
08. Infinity (7:32)
Total Time – 47:21
Rôka – Cymbals & Skins, Bowed Guitar
Löki – Keyboards, Synthesisers & Trumpet
Alex Hedley – Vocals (track 4)
Freyja – Vocals (track 6)
Record Label: Independent
Country of Origin: U.K.
Date of Release: 4th February 2022