Nadja’s mysterious sound keeps advancing, taking on dark new waves on stormy ‘Luminous Rot’

There is not a single way to play heavy music, and to think there is essentially cuts you off from any  aspect of creativity or experimentation that has served to broaden perspectives from artists hellbent on defying boundaries. That’s been for the better as every single style of heavy music has grown, and diverse artists have been able to flourish and find an audience.

Nadja long has been a band on which it’s been impossible to affix a label. Yeah, they simmer in doom and drone and noise, but their style they’ve developed over a whole slew of recordings has shifted and changed, ensuring they never could be painted into a corner. On their latest LP “Luminous Rot,” they stretch even further, adding vocals and even more approachable touches, delivering songs that are a little shorter than their usual and knocking it the fuck out. The band—multi-instrumentalist Aidan Baker, bassist Leah Buckareff—works into the shadows, pokes through to doomy muscle, post-rock hypnosis, and a slowly drubbing storm that leaves you soaked to the core.   

“Intro” is a quick piece that boils in noise and builds pressure until it penetrates and makes your skull vibrate, leading into the title track where sounds agitate until the power punches in. The vocals swim through the fog, burrowing deep into mystery, and then it gets moody and weird as the playing eats into your psyche. The power stomps through as things gets murky and even take on a New Wave edge, washing out into the horizon. “Cuts on Your Hands” sends seismic waves as the track slowly moves, and the vocals slip into the mix. That trickles into strangeness as the mood gets heavier, as a dark mist moves overhead and blocks out your vision. The noises get more oppressive as the melodies lap, repeat, and cut through the center, heading into space and scraping away at the sky.

“Starres” is ominous as it starts as things get whirry and hypnotic, the growls chew at muscle, and the playing numbs, while the vibe actually starts to feel scary. The singing floats as your head fills with anxiety, and the melodies loop and chill you, droning away until everything fades. “Fruiting Bodies” brings total doom riffs that unload the hammer as the fuzz builds and carries over, while the riffs razor and the vocals swim. Ghostlike transmissions mix in, the guitars buzz, and a quick halt then leads to a burly blast, icing you over as the song fades. “Dark Inclusions” is the closer, and it lurches through dark fury while the music drives into menace. The vocals tease as the playing warps your mind, leading to the drums pummeling. The ambiance gets heavy and strange, dipping into the cosmos, while the playing pounds away, slipping into a psychedelic dream that buries you.

Nadja’s massive catalog contains no two things that sound alike, and “Luminous Rot” fits right in with that idea, as this is unlike anything the band ever released. As much of their music as I’ve heard, and the understanding I’ve developed to expect anything, I still was thrown for a loop by this record, which I mean in a good way. Nadja remain a fairly mysterious entity to many people, and if you’re one of those folks, change that now and dive in here knowing the water is deep and rich.    

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