Like a velvet glove cast in iron, Nordic Giants’ A Séance of Dark Delusions combines the gentle with the harsh, producing the most upbeat apocalyptic album of recent memory. Although at times it does threaten to collapse under the weight of its own ambition, overall it’s a solidly constructed, suitably epic work.
The most impressive tracks are the instrumentals. Album opener Elysian Dreams marries ethereal choir work with throbbing electro builds, creating an emotional world entirely of its own, and the brief but beautiful Black Folds presents itself as the lullaby of the damned. Album closer A Thousand Lost Dreams takes time to build to its point of emotional catharsis (the track’s seven minutes long), but the slow burn concludes the album on a memorably grand note.
But of them all, Evolve Or Perish stands out as the album’s highpoint. It is a perfect encapsulation of everything Nordic Giants attempt to do on the record, combining as it does a considered, emotive keyboard line with samples of a suitably apocalyptic monologue by renowned author and activist Michael Ruppert. It’s a strikingly effective tune, plucking the most interesting elements from prog and post-rock and layering it with a condemnation of man’s very state of being. It never feels like a lecture, but it’s a track clearly and effectively composed by a band with a lot on their minds.
The album’s problems come then from the tracks that feature a variety of guest vocalists. There is something about Nordic Giants’ sound that works best without words, and the moment the vocals are added, something essential is lost. Rapture, a track that features Beth Cannon, feels shockingly mundane when compared to the records’ finest songs. Though Cannon does some nice work, her vocals just seem out of place, and only really serve to water down the track’s intensity. The surreal, dreamlike feel of the album is ruptured by the human voice, and the album’s beautifully esoteric tone is similarly damaged by the guest spots on Dissolve and Futures Dark.
But, even the album’s most pronounced artistic missteps aren’t enough to completely hurt the work. When viewed as a whole, A Séance of Dark Delusions is an admirably intelligent piece; a broad, beautiful work that marks Nordic Giants as a band most definitely on the rise.