NOÊTA – Beyond Life and Death Review

Album: Beyond Life and Death
Label: Prophecy
Genre: Ambient
Country: Sweden
Release Date: February 17th, 2017

Let’s get this straight, right up front and at the beginning: this is not a metal album. Does is have darkness? Sure, in spades. Does it have doom? Yep. Is it moody and swirly and full of the kinds of emotions a lot of metal indulges in? Absolutely. But there is not really a single riff on this thing, nor any kind of sense of urgency or fire of the sort that metal usually wallows in. This is what can be referred to as Ambient, with the only real “Metal” moment being the melodic, Anathema-like guitar that chimes in about 15 seconds into the song “In Drowning.” Think Myrkur minus the black metal, and you have a general idea what’s going on here.

That being said, this album is brilliant. If you like mood, atmosphere, melancholy, and darkness touched with lilting, ethereal vocals, you’ve found a new home. Full of sparse instrumentation—most of it either purely acoustic or electronic—it’s the haunting vocals of singer Elea that carries the emotional heft of this record and the songs, although I hesitate to call them songs. Yes, there are individual tracks, but they mostly flow together, and I began to think of this more as nine movements rather than nine individual compositions. This is one big, painterly piece, and you’re either onboard right away or running to the hills. But if you take the time, there’s a lot to unpack here, with much beauty in the blackness, and even though it does have the general feel of a soul floating on the obsidian ocean of death, there is a peace and serenity to be found.

The duo of Elea and Andris spin us into a world of introspection and poetry. The album is divided into three parts, according to their bio: emotion as the meaning of life, resignation and anxiety, and the horrific respect of nature. This isn’t ground to be tread lightly, and despite the lighter nature of the music, this is heavy stuff.

Unlike most metal, this is a record meant for headphones, I think, and for sitting in your room in the darkest recesses of the night, all the lights off, eyes closed. This is about letting the music and vocals wash over you, not punch your gut or shuffle your feet. Atmospheric is a word that comes immediately to mind, as does melancholy. This album truly is the definition of that kind of music.

If you want to rock, this is not the record for you. But if you want to be alone and drift away, if you want to experience music in a less visceral and more, should I say “spiritual” kind of way, this is for you.

Rating: 0/10 – if you’re looking for headbanging ferocity
8/10 – if you’re into ambience, darkness, and mood music

1. Beyond Life
2. In Drowning
3. Darkest Desires
4. Pneuma
5. In Void
6. Dead Soil
7. Beyond Death
8. In Thunder
9. Urkaos

Total Playing Time: 43:19

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