The Cusp of the Void is an album with twisting, beautiful melodies intertwined with folk-influenced acoustic parts and vocals that will blow you away. The music is truly encapsulating, leaving you in a lulled-state of mind and taking you on a journey through the soundscape they produced. Each song features new and interesting ideas while remaining around core sound of the band, one that is reminiscent of Wolves in the Throne Room or Vallendusk. The verse-chorus-verse setup is not found anywhere within the tracks due to a non-linear, progressive attack to songwriting being utilized. It gives the music new life around every corner and you are never hearing repeated sections over and over again. When you do hear the same melody repeated, which happens a few times, it is always well received and never annoying.
Now, to delve into the actual music. The drums are a huge part of this album and while they are hidden under the beautiful guitar melodies and the roar of the vocals, they are easily heard and when you actually concentrate on them, you hear how complex some of the patterns really are. Through reviewing Dalla Nebbia and his other band, Funeral Age (those reviews can be read here and here), I have become friends with the drummer and have really started to enjoy and praise his style. His other work is quite different than this and the amount of adaptation he is able to harness truly shows his skills as a drummer. His technical ability is utilized a lot more in Dalla Nebbia, showing that he can not only play really fast, he can be precise and technical as well. The bass is not an instrument you often hear in black metal, mainly because it follows the guitar riffs and hides in the background. This time around, the bass is easily picked out and has its own rhythms a lot of the time, adding another layer to the bands sound. While there is never a ton of bass work that is showcased over everything else, the skill is still shown nicely. The guitarist is a talent powerhouse within Dalla Nebbia. His riffs are mesmerizing. He is able to write beautiful melodies that float above the rest of the music but also pull off some brutal, palm muted riffs that pack a punch. The fact that he can do this, along with bringing an acoustic guitar into the mix that sounds like something out of an Agalloch release is astounding. He also does the clean vocals, which should be featured more because when they are being heard, they sound absolutely amazing! The harsh screams are powerful but don't cover up any other part of the music. They keep their distance but shine when they need to, giving the music a nice balance.
I would love to mention that my favorite track off of the album has to be Shade of Memory. The song starts out quiet and laid back, letting the clean, dream-like guitar line pluck away while a chorus of clean vocals sings over. The song grows and grows, eventually leading into a super groovy riff that sounds like nothing else on the album. All of the sudden, out of nowhere, the first melody you hear on the album makes a re-occurrence and leads the rest of the song home. This really brings the whole album full circle and connects the beginning and end of the original material and that is something that blew me away. Coming from a band who has never had a physical practice, doing something so complex when it comes to songwriting and coordination of the group is a feat that should be praised.
Needless to say, Dalla Nebbia absolutely stunned me. Their music truly captures beauty, darkness, death, and life all in one. The interwoven melodies and at times, downright groovy-ness is unlike anything I have ever heard. These guys have some extreme talent and the praise they are getting over this album is definitely well deserved. Their new album is currently being recorded and I cannot wait to hear what is in store for that. If it is anything like The Cusp of the Void, I don't think anybody will be disappointed.