It seems fitting that one of the last reviews I write for the year is also for quite possibly the most massive and crushing thing that I've heard in the past 365 days. In only a short period of time now, the duo of Nadja have pumped out a huge amount of work, and Radiance Of Shadows is their third release of this year alone, following this years Touched full length, and their Guilted By The Sun EP. Touched took five tracks and stretched them out to nearly an hour, but it's absolutely dwarfed by the almost black hole-like weight of this newest release, which finds three tracks filling literally almost the entire data storage space of a CD (coming in just thirty seconds under the eighty-minute limit).
Needless to say, this is some serious doom, from a group who has evolved their style quickly while at the same time slowing things down even further. With the minimum running of twenty-four minutes, the pieces on Radiance Of Shadows play out more like symphonies of dirging destruction. Opener "Now I Am Become Death The Destroyer Of Worlds" opens with only a tick-tick-tick of drum machine programming before fading to soft guitar note hits. After a few minutes, a wall of distorted guitar and bass so thick that it sounds like they're being played through partially blown speakers enters and splits the skies open. The track then plows through this section while adding and subtracting layers and textures before dropping off into quiet ambience that they again shatter a few more times before it finally comes to an end.
"I Have Tasted The Fire Inside Your Mouth" is even more effective, mixing in some almost plaintive vocals during a beautiful beginning (as piano notes ring off soft-white guitar washes) before it again keeps raising the intensity level with scorching guitar sheets and hammering drums during a mid-section and and one more blowout that finds quiet guitar drones and vocals getting obliterated by a closing monolith of sound.
There's really no two ways about it, Radiance Of Shadows is an exhausting album to listen to. The album-titled closer "Radiance Of Shadows" again starts out somewhat quiet, but cleaves in half after five minutes to reveal some more gleaming guts, and doesn't really relent until the final moments (almost twenty minutes later). In the wrong mood, this is the sort of music that will push you even further down a hole, and even in a lighter setting can make it seem like the walls are closing in a bit. Having heard the group build to this point (through a couple full-lengths and the aforementioned EP), I simply can't imagine where they will go next. There's an odd elegance to this sprawling album, and it's punishing at the same time. It's definitely not for everyone, but those who like seriously heavy music will find this album to be just what they've been looking for.