Title: Kanawha Black
Label: Bindrune Recordings
Release Date: 13 May 2022
Format Reviewed: High-quality digital recording
Nechochwen is an emulsion of many influences; melodic, folk, pagan and black metal can be heard in this album. Have also been called Appalachian folk. Yet this band doesn’t want to be held down to a certain type of music. Their influences are many and varied and can be heard in the singing, which is both the extreme metal styling and clean vocals as well. Another key component of this band is culture. Nechochwen encompasses the cultural heritage of the Lenape tribe and also the Shawnee tribe, and that background comes out in their music. I’m very impressed with a band that keeps its roots in mind when making music for other ears to hear. The many instruments incorporated in the album are: hand drum, rattle, cedar flute and lalawas, just to name some. The name chosen for the band Nechochwen is a Lenape word meaning “walks alone”, and the lead singer was also named this same name as a young teenager. The album art is picturing carved arrow heads, which also got my interest as well.
Nechochwen is a duo; Nechochwen is the lead singer, playing guitars, keyboards & cultural instruments to name some of them, and, Pohonasin, as backing vocals, bass, and drums. Themes for some of the tracks centre around North American traditions, tribal rituals, and nature. This band has been making music since 2005, with four full-length albums, this one being done 7 years after the last album “Heart of Akamon” from 2015. In between the albums were split albums, EPs and a live performance album. There hasn’t been a lot of breaks between musical endeavors and that speaks loudly to this band’s drive to be heard.
“Kanawha Black”, the first track of 7 tracks: the heavy metal style of guitar riffing to start and building to a black metal/melodic edge guitar and drum duo. Strong, rhythmic guitar sets, to guttural scream spoken/vocal styles, and then clean vocal sections. Drums are a force in this track, a force to be reckoned with, and guitars keep up with the blast beats. Keyboard section to even out things, and some beautiful melodic passages. As I had said in the above intro, this whole track is not one sound influence, its varied, giving freedom of expression.
“The Murky Deep”, acoustic guitar and keyboard shining through in this. Sublime picking of the strings, seems a story is being composed just in the guitar work. Heavier guitar riffing to stream in, and a clean vocal harmony being sung to wend through all of this background. This to me, is more of the melodic metal influence to be heard.
“I Can Die But Once”, strong acoustic rhythms, and a phantom style of whisper singing to start off. Lyric sample: “I can die but once, its all the same”. Acoustic instrumental is the main meat of this track, beautifully expressed with the addition of guitar solo and keyboards.
“A Cure For The Winter Plagues”, ohh heavy influence, slow, slow build up, keeping the music styling very heavy and oppressive sounding. Done very well, there are layers to this oppressive sound.
“Visions, Dreams & Signs”, epic layering of drums and guitars, and yelled vocals. A change in tone and speed interlude comes in, bringing in strumming acoustic guitars and keyboards to add yet another layer to this already epic track. Sonorous harmonies charge in, with a shout out to ancient times and rituals.
Track six is “Generations of War”, again with a story being told in guitars, and a flute (I believe) in this beginning intro section. Then we fall into punishing, searing, riffs and a screamed guttural vocal, which to me sounds reminiscent of a call to war. This is a heavy hitting track, and the drums remind me of war drums, that beat just gets into your bloodstream. Lyrics echoing: “When every stand is the last” to finish out the track.
The final track is “Across the Divide”, the acoustic guitar almost has a country inspired sound being developed as the song continues. Harmonies come in, and the track picks up pounding drums and heavy guitars. Again, the tone changes from quieter to louder, and finally the extreme metal singing which is blistering and powerful. Clean singing follows that portion and more incredible guitar work, this time a solo.
When listening to Nechochwen, you aren’t listening to just one set sound, they are multi-talented and multi-influenced. It’s quite seamless how each track switches, changes in influence of music, to influence of singing. I think they are very successful at not being put into a category of music, and celebrate their differences, culture and imagination in each of their songs. I give 7/10 Metal Marie
7/10 Victory is possible
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