In the instrumental progressive metal scene there are many notable examples of artists operating as a one-man project (see Plini, I Built the Sky and some of Drewsif Stalin’s back catalogue), as well as those with a more traditional and ‘full band’ set up – like Polyphia, Chon and Intervals. Having evolved from the former to the latter, Divine Realm’s Leo Diensthuber shares songwriting and performance duties on Nordicity – as was the case on predecessor Tectum Argenti (2016). Perhaps Diensthuber was looking for the character and different voice of each individuals’ input that can only be brought by the input of many.
Sadly, although they are formed as a whole band, there is nothing extraordinary on offer within Nordicity to elevate it above something which could have been produced by a one-man operation. As a self-proclaimed “progressive” band influenced by Animals as Leaders and Pomegranate Tiger, the lack of challenge in listening to this release detracts from its quality: there is little, if any, experimentation with time signature or unique rhythmic patterns, making the feeling of the whole EP somewhat derivative and nothing new.
That said, despite the lack of originality, there are some well-crafted and attention-grabbing riffs to be found within Nordicity – particularly in “Autumn” and with album closer “Hanging Valley” – however, this quality is not consistent enough to make the EP memorable. When highlighting specific tracks it is also worth mentioning the inclusion of opener “As the Crow Flies” (containing two bass drops in its 80 second length), which does not naturally flow as an intro into the second track “Autumn”.
Roy and Diensthuber have done a stellar job with the production, which allows the technical ability of these two guitarists to shine through, however it is the songwriting itself which does not match the prowess of Divine Realm’s instrumentalists. This is disappointing when compared to previous releases Tectum Argenti and Abyssal Light, which offered far more character and engagement in their composition.
Nordicity is a pleasant, inoffensive but ultimately forgettable listen and does not really impact Divine Realm’s catalogue of prior releases favourably. It is neither good nor bad, but the particularly pleasant moments (the aforementioned sections in “Autumn”) are outweighed by the general mediocrity of the songwriting. There is clear promise within the band; sadly, Nordicity is a missed opportunity to realise it.
Nordicity Track Listing:
01. As the Crow Flies
05. Hanging Valleys
Run Time: 19 minutes
Release Date: March 2, 2018
For a sample of the album, listen to the band’s song “Autumn” below.