Noctu – Gelidae Mortis Imago

Italy’s Noctu is set to release the new album Gelidae Mortis Imago (the Cold Image of Death) on Transcending Obscurity Records on May 15.  This solo project contains atmospheric funeral doom that is incredibly emotional and dark.  Today’s world of music too often over presents itself and desperately shows off, shamelessly pursuing the listener with all its cards shown, like a nerdy child begging to be played with .  Noctu is not that easy, this is music that has to be met halfway or more as a listener.  This album has a “show me yours then I’ll show you mine” attitude.  Frequently in life the more difficult journey has the greater payoff.  This album by Noctu is a mountaineering expedition, not a quick jaunt through the local park on a paved running path.  Some listeners may find this journey too difficult, too dangerous.  Those from outside and unaccustomed to songs that evoke such gut wrenching sorrow may find this album to be too much.  A wise listener might ask themselves, do they want to go to a museum or stay at home and goof  around on Pinterest?  Meaningful or quick and dirty?  Anyone who takes the time, opens themselves up and lets this album in will realize that it is meaningful art.  

     Gelidae Mortis Imago instrumentally seems to be mostly performed with some kind of synthesizer.  It works and allows for a large array of sounds that are used to great affect, but at times it feels weird, slightly artificial and canned.  Emotional music like this can often benefit from real, organic instruments that give the music a tangibility.  Real emotions drawn from real instruments is powerful.  The synth seems a bit less relatable then other conventional instruments, but it works for this album creating large, eery soundscapes none the less.  Noctu is able to circumvent and overcome this dilemma with success by instrumentally not offering the listener much to cling to.  The sound is still full and dynamic, the path is just focused and narrow.

     Whirling ambience, throaty vocal dronings, ghostlike slow piano plunkings and just enough tinny black metal guitars bolstered with slow hammering drumbeats take the listener on a slow decent into an emotional abyss.  The listener is left floating in an ocean of sorrow with nothing to grasp onto except their own feelings of morose depression, bleak loneliness and dreadful despair.  Songs like the over 16 minute Fitte Tenebre (Le Radici Dell’ Inferno) make the listener realize how hard it is to breath and encourages them to give up, let go, and descend lifeless into the swirling waves of emotion.

Noctu has nailed their sound with this cohesive, coherent, emotional exploration Gelidae Mortis Imago.  It has a suspenseful uncertainty that at times feels like a horror movie and other times a psychological thriller.  This album is a beast and is hungry for souls, will you open the door and let it in?

Gelidae Mortis Imago releases May 15 on Transcending Obscurity Records.

Track Listing: (I put loose English translations in parenthesis)

  1. Suicidio Al Chiaro Di Luna (Suicide in the Moonlight)
  2. Fitte Tenebre (La Radici Dell’ Inferno) (Thick Darkness (the Roots of Hell))
  3. Oltre I Cancelli Del Cimitero (Beyond the Graveyard‘s Gate)
  4. Lucida Oscurita Senziente (Lucid Sentient Darkness)
  5. Sangue Sulla Mia Lapide (Blood on My Tombstone)
  6. Isolato Da Un Mondo Senza Speranza (Isolated from a Hopeless World)