Is it possible to stop Njiqahdda? They are a band that are so inhumanly prolific that they could almost give the likes of Nadja or Justin Broadrick a run for their money but what is so inspiring about the mysterious Illinois-based duo is the trajectory of consistency they maintain with quality, all the while shifting through so many styles and hopping to and from different genres with each release. The old saying of quality not quantity is certainly true for most bands but Njiqahdda manage to excel in both, and spectacularly so with new full-length Serpents In The Sky.
Down through the years, Njiqahdda’s records have explored everything from black metal to doom and sludge to neofolk. On Serpents In The Sky, the band inject a great deal of melody into their sound, one that, in this instance, aligns itself on a consciously prog-tinged sludge end of the spectrum, with elements of Neurosis and the first couple of Isis EPs all nodded to and even a judicial amount of Mastodon-like accessibility can be heard pulsing through theses veins.
Clocking in at 70 minutes, Serpents In The Sky is a vast, sprawling record that truly takes the listener on a voyage, one rife with cataclysmic crescendos and head crushing heaviness but glossed with some serene melody and beauty too, and it’s the tasteful post rock melody, which seeps into the album that really makes the record so well rounded.
The haunting and ominous opening chimes of ‘Gaia’ truly set a tone for Serpents in the Sky, and it’s from here that Njiqahdda begin to unfurl their tale. There are virtually no black metal elements on this record, rather attempting to conjure hypnotic proggy verses that are equally heavy too. ‘She Which Water Holds’ and ‘Exclave’ definitely subscribe to the influences of many of the classic prog bands, moving between moody and ambient-laden verses before ambling into heavier passages that work more off the band’s underground heart.
Meanwhile, the final two tracks ‘The Serpents In The Sky…’ and ‘…and the Men Behind The Sun’, as their titles would suggest, are accompanying pieces and at 12 and 17 minutes respectively, they truly end this album on a stunning high. The former meanders through entrancing and mesmeric verses with gloomy clean vocals soon met by Aaron Turner-like coarse wails that dance around sleek, and simply beautiful, guitar work.
Fading away and rising again with the 17 minute closer, Njiqahdda round out this spectacular record with poise and even eloquence, taking us through their sonic peaks and troughs, radiant melody and crushing heaviness – all executed to exhilarating effect.
It may still be early days for 2013 but this album is already a glimmering highlight for the year and knowing Njiqahdda, it won’t be too long before a follow-up emerges and that alone is an exciting thought in itself.
Serpents In The Sky is available through the band’s own label, EEE Recordings