The trio from the region around Nijmegen has become a global staple for brilliant modern black metal ever since their inception six winters ago, resulting in several highly acclaimed records with their last release “De Oord”, the split with fellow Gelderlanders Fluisteraars, even being named metal album of 2018 by Stereogum. The new record, again co-released by Eisenwald and Haeresis Noviomagi (the band’s own collective), is definitely no regression or standstill – it is rather a new chapter for a band that seems unable to produce anything less than brilliant. Usually reviews should not be too euphoric (especially this early in the year – oh who cares?!) but this album will be on a lot of metal top 5 lists this year. Why?
Listen to the six tracks and two interludes and take your time, listen to it twice or thrice and feel the magnetic pulse, the way your hair stands on end, your breath calms down and some gentle darkness embraces you. This is not the kind of black metal that pulls you down, but rather (due to a minute bit of blackgazey-ness) a record that can lift you up. “Storm” and “II” are a good example: amid all the furor, the riffs, the screams and the drum-pulse you will hear small chants which move more and more to the foreground until the end when they stand out and only the short feedback fades away – this little detail lifts your soul and spirit. The next thing is the interlude “II” starting with little synthesizer pluckering and thus embellishing the soothing end of “Storm”.
Thematically, the record revolves around the ambiguity of the mountains – the hot sweltering beauty of these spots in the summer which can easily transform into blistering, crushing heat. This is a general motif in Turia’s work, beauty and death, although musically they definitely tend to focus on the former, as far as that is possible for a black metal band. Musically, “Degen van Licht” is another mountainous milestone in the trio’s oeuvre and will go down as a monolithic release for 2020.