By: Daniela Patrizi

Northumbria | website | facebook | twitter | bandcamp |

Released on March 31, 2015 via Cryo Chamber

A few nights ago I was looking at the sky through the window, I gave my mp3 player a go and I got lost into my thoughts. The music was hovering over the roofs of the sleepy gothic houses when I realised that what it was playing was just perfect for that moment. It was ‘A Door Made of Light I’ from Helluland, the new album by Northumbria, the Canadian ambient metal, drone duo composed by Jim Field and Dorian Williamson.

They are back then and again they manage to take you where you want to go through their sublime sound. Thanks to the minimalist approach with their guitars, Jim and Dorian manage to deliver cold and involving landscapes realised by a somber and hypnotic arrays of atmospheres. Blending organic ambient music with drone sounds, the two guitars will lift you above the trees and then they will let you fall and floating with leaves in the summer breeze. ‘Maelstrom’ is a great example of the ambient textures that Northumbria are able to create. There’s a slow build up that works as a foundation for the atmosphere to grow and the ambience to flourish.

The centre of the album is dominated by the delicate textures of ‘A Door Made of Light I’ and ‘A Door Made of Light II’ that through speakers and headphones are exceedingly bright and stunning. Experiencing this music at night time offers sobering emotions and instills a delicate sense of calm. It makes me think of the beautiful and windy coasts of Canada and the fact that the first time I listened to this record I was admiring the sky over Edinburgh made me feel even closer to its sound.

The 10 tracks of Helluland flow individually and all in the same way. The whole album is like one song only and track by track the record offers a different momentum, somewhere as dark as night, somewhere else as bright as the starts that sprinkle it.

One of the milestones of the record is the title track that represents that typical sound the Canadian duo is so good in delivering. ‘Helluland’ is the essence of guitar-based ambient drone music and it’s beautifully melancholic, possibly cathartic. There’s a magic sound here with more darkness than light and, at the end of the day, there’s nothing more suitable, more immersive or more incredibly uplifting than the sound that Northumbria creates.

The closing ‘Catching a Falling Knife II’ has the same ethereal effect. It’s a kind of continuum of the previous ‘Catching a Falling Knife I’. If you try to listen to them together you have the impression that the sound gradually develops into something spectacular, illuminating the music with soaring strings and the effect is like if we float high in the sky with them.

The journey through Helluland ends here and through this release the duo confirm their ability to produce magnificent dark drone that has the power to catch your soul and let you feel things you didn’t expect.

Writing this kind of music, where tranquility easily flirts with boredom, is quite difficult and Northumbria must be proud of themselves for the melody and the structure realised with Helluland through which Jim and Dorian created an aesthetically pleasing sound which can light up and nurture every night-time audience.

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