Ainulindale - Nevrast
Self-released
Darkwave Neofolk
8 songs (39'28")
Release year: 2014
Reviewed by Alex
Album of the month

It is always nice to know that someone is reading your reviews. In the case of Nebelung one Frenchman Thomas Reybard aka Engwar, the man behind Ainulindale, apparently did. Two bands largely play in the similar style – darkwave neofolk – and even shared a spot on the Prophecy Productions famous compilation Whom the Moon a Nightsong Sing. Judging from the fact I liked Nebelung Thomas thought I might enjoy Ainulindale as well, and offered I write a review for is latest album Nevrast. Usually in the situations like this I prefer to get my hands on a paid for hardcopy for a couple of reasons. One – I always love to help self-releasing independent artists, and – two – this way I feel a lot less beholden to submit a favorable review not having taken free goodies. In the case of Ainulindale, through the glimpse of a zip file Thomas sent to me earlier, I knew I wasn’t going to regret my purchase. Several weeks after and Nevrast has turned into one of the favorite neofolk albums in my collection.

There will always be people who will call this ambient, largely acoustic, music navel gazing nonsense. Metal fans are certainly not immune to this misconception, and you won’t convince those folks otherwise. Yet, I swear, the world would have been a lot more contemplative and safer, albeit sadder, place, if only this style of music existed. It is true that Nevrast is not going to take you on the journey of whirlwind rhythms and emotions, but it is incredibly well done, and with all natural instruments it has a delicate and authentic feel. Besides, unlike maybe others in the genre, Thomas made sure that at all times Nevrast maintained flow and melody, without going on overthought pointless trips, and this approach maintains listener’s focus throughout.

Whether Nevrast compositions end up as meditative acoustic guitar trips (Vinyamar), calming seaside strolls (By the Shore), provide a touch of symphonic chamber music (Hither Land), while orchestration enters one instruments at a time until the music reaches its full-fledged beauty (title track), it is that aforementioned beauty that Nevrast never loses perspective of. I have no idea about Thomas’ formal music education (or even if he has any), but I am willing to proclaim him an emotive modern day Bach or Handel, because of the feel with which he makes every one of the 20 musicians involved contribute, and because of the grace with which he makes every one of their instruments flow. The tenderness of the violin (especially piccolo to gliding moments in The Parting), the depth of the velvety cello (the beginning of Namarie), the stateliness of double bass, the lushness of the trombone (By the Shore), the passion of the guitars going from Spanish flamenco (Hither Land) to acoustic strumming (Hither Land) to gripping Gypsy waltz (title track) – you can hear all those things separately, although they all join into one refined monolithic beauty.

Unlike Nebelung Ainulindale, at least here on Nevrast, is a lot more vocalized, make it a little closer in sound to Green Carnation on Acoustic Verses (but with a lot more layered orchestration). Needing singing to tell his Tolkien inspired stories, Thomas utilizes both male and female vocals, as well as a larger choir. Can’t say that his male vocals will win awards, but with Alice Jean’s girly tenderness, both have a chance to tell their side of the story (The Parting, Namarie, title track) separately, before joining in a pinnacle closing duet at the end of the title track.

I may have been a little slower to completely accept the middle of the album, only because The Parting and the title track are so fantastic you want to play them non-stop. But once the appetite to hear what still remain my favorite tracks on the album was satiated, I perfectly settled into playing the whole of Nevrast on continuous spin and discovered further depth where I originally missed it. Next I probably have to check out Thomas’ work as Engmar on his black metal project Vehementer Nos.

Killing Songs :
The Parting, Nevrast
Alex quoted 90 / 100
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