Pyramids with Nadja Pyramids with Nadja

[Hydra Head; 2009]

Rating: 3.5/5

Styles: drone, doom, ambient
Others: sunn 0))), Skullflower

A mostly quiet work of occasionally stunning beauty, this collaboration between the ubiquitous drone duo Nadja and the normally much harsher Pyramids is a creature of subtlety and pensiveness: its flourishes are many, but are most often understated; its textures are inviting, but don't shy from the abrasive.

In fact, there’s a temptation at times to consider this as some New Age ambient blankness, best suited for Yoga and beach walks. It’s certainly far from what we expect to be called metal — even of the sunn 0))) school of heavy. And its atmospheres, though frequently darkened by mournful tones, are more calming than unsettling. Guitars and voices trail off into ether, fading beneath waves of soft feedback and humming keys. The rises and falls in volume ripple like water, glassy and smooth even when they thunder. Like the rushing creek that punctuates the album’s cover art, we know there’s power here, but we can’t help but feel peacefulness moving through it as well.

This is not an album filled with strong emotions. There isn’t a profound or noted sense of anger or sadness or regret or joy. There is a feeling of acceptance, sometimes resignation, particularly in the well-titled “An Angel Was Heard to Cry Over the City of Rome.” Tempered voices restrain their mournfulness, knowing it accomplishes nothing as the waves of sound wash over and around them, moving ever fluidly of their own accord. The people we hear are a part of the greater sound, their voices are reduced to ambience.

And although “An Angel” draws out the black metal tendencies of Pyramids through a martial barrage of drums, even this track is softened by the most uplifting timbres yet employed in the record. The drumming subsides and the drone remains. Like silt in a stream, we’re carried by the album toward the great, expansive sea. As individual sediments, we might careen wildly as the music shifts direction and timbre. We might hit rapids where the more aggressive moments rear their heads. But we move eternally toward a great expanse.

Pyramids with Nadja is an acknowledgment of the inevitable infinite, a spiritually-attuned piece of drone that serves to remind us of our own insignificance, celebrating the greater whole of which we are a part. This is not a record of bombast or inwardly-focused attentions. It is not a story or a formulated exercise. Its movement is organic, its dynamic natural. The album is a metaphor and a parable. It is a scale model of forever.

1. Into The Silent Waves
2. Another War
3. Sound of Ice and Grass
4. An Angel Was Heard to Cry Over the City of Rome

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