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Novarupta releasing ‘Disillusioned Fire’ (stream “Mare Tranquillitatis”)


When Swedish post-metal band The Moth Gatherer’s founding bassist and vocalist Alex Stjernfeldt parted ways with the group after a decade of committed work therewith, he faced a bleak and uncertain future, struggling with intense feelings of depression and frustration regarding things to come. But it was out of this very disillusionment and fiery turmoil that a veritable Phoenix arose, stirring him to channel this negativity into deeper, darker compositions. In late 2018, Stjernfeldt developed a no-holds-barred outlet for these emotions, an entity that would serve as a catharsis for the pain that haunted him. Evoking new creations from the ashes of psychological despair, he launched his new project Novarupta and announced the group’s debut full-length Disillusioned Fire.

Named for the largest volcanic eruption of the 20th Century and directly translating to “newly erupted,” Novarupta represents the rebirth of Stjernfeldt’s creative endeavors, a forward progression in his sound as well as a simultaneous return to his roots. Building compositions on a sturdy foundation of decidedly frostbitten post-metal and sludge, Disillusioned Fire touches on many of the same depressive themes of isolation and cynicism as The Moth Gatherer but through a broadened musical scope, functioning not simply as a new band but also as a collective of guest musicians and an unrestricted outlet for Stjernfeldt’s artistic expression.

After allowing us to first experience the colossal might of “Ourang Medan” and “Pyroclastic,” the group now unveils the record’s fourth track “Mare Tranquillitatis,” another massive journey into the human psyche. The song begins with a measured, rippling march into melancholy that soon explodes with distortion as forlorn, rasping vocals force themselves through dense curtains of guitars and ominously thunderous percussion. The track continues to escalate in intensity, slogging along at a muscular clip as riffs begin to sink further beneath layers of smog and gravel, eventually breaking apart to provide a moment of ambient respite at the four-minute mark before promptly descending back into this viscous mire of tormented thoughts.

As one of Disillusioned Fire’s heftiest tracks, “Mare Tranquillitatis” strikes a meditative yet vitriolic tone, with robust earthen riffs that slowly melt and cascade downward while howled lamentations from guest vocalist Mikael Stanne (Dark Tranquility, ex-Hammerfall) tower over the churning molten sludge like monoliths hewn from igneous stone. Crushing throughout, the track’s thick groove and grimly blackened aesthetics juxtapose senses of triumph and victory, both subtle yet ultimately prevailing, suggesting that perhaps Stjernfeldt’s future hopes and burning passions are alive yet buried deep beneath illusions of self-doubt and temporary hardships. Despite his external frigidity and stoicism, there is a lust for life that burns at his core, much like magma borne within the barren Earth.

The extensive and eclectic list of guest vocalists featured on the record helps to emphasize each track’s individuality, providing the album with enough differentiation and sonic variety to engage listeners throughout while still retaining a singular cohesive flow. “Mare Tranquillitatis” is no exception to this trend: although it features tones and textures that are largely consistent with the album’s overall atmosphere, Stanne’s extreme vocal style provides a unique perspective on type of musical and emotional landscape that Stjernfeldt has set out to create, allowing us an intimate glimpse into the various manifestations of the compositional approach taken on Disillusioned Fire.

“Mare Tranquillitatis” provides yet another reason to turn eager anticipations toward the full release of Novarupta’s debut, to anxiously await the epic forms manifested on the three tracks yet unheard and the cohesive experience of the record at once as a unified work. Disillusioned Fire is an especially brilliant example of metal’s ability to transform despair and destruction into beautiful new creations.

Disillusioned Fire releases April 29th via Suicide Records. Stream two more tracks below:

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