I'll be honest here, dear readers, I was predisposed to like the debut album from Noterminus before I'd even heard a note of it. I looked at the artwork and was intrigued by the Tolkeinesque images, and thought "Yay, Prog"! A quick study of the titles and band logo had me wondering if this could in fact be metal. From the first spin of the CD I knew I was listening to music that whilst containing elements of both, is so much more than prog-metal. I heard folk music, mediaeval music, hints of choral music, even spaghetti westerns, along with the aforementioned prog and metal sounds.
Such an eclectic mix is rare in modern music, as many bands decide on a style, and just go with it. Husband and wife team Owen and Maria Owen- Midlane, the creative core of the band, have more ambition than that, and that is to be applauded. The mix of genres and sounds to be found on 'Haselupker's Ink' certainly makes for an exhilarating, if not always an easy listen. That's not to say that this is difficult music, rather it's a challenging listen. The sometimes abrupt changes in sound can take one by surprise; a heavy riff driven song suddenly morphs into a two part vocal harmony, before returning to full on metal. It did take a few listens before I was fully comfortable with this collision of styles, and that's not a criticism.
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Melodically the eight songs here are initially quite discordant sounding, although after a couple of play throughs the charms of the melodies really did worm their way into my brain. The lyrics too are consistently thought provoking and certainly complement the music, or maybe that should be the other way around. Either way the music and words fit like a glove and other similar cliches! I won't review this as a list of songs, as that will spoil it when you hear it yourself but I will single out the title track for particular praise. It has everything I've mentioned above and is a fantastic showcase for all that is admirable about the album.
The bands performance is passionate, especially the lead vocals of Maria who can sing with the grace on an angel, or the snarl of a demon, often within the same song. She has a truly remarkable vocal style, which is best described as a blend of Siouxsie, Stevie Nicks, Kate Bush, and a touch of Yoko. The perfect voice for this music in fact. Her voice is ably supported by that of Owen, who has a lovely warmth to his singing, and their harmonies are superb. He also plays a mean bass, with the flashy guitar solos being provided by Paul Reynolds. Maria is a fine guitarist too, whilst the deliciously named Vinden Wylde (I so want that to be not made up...) handles the drums.
To sum up, this might not be the easiest album to appreciate on a casual listen, for this is music that demands the listeners full attention, otherwise you will miss out on the rich rewards to be found here. In 'Haselupker's Ink' Noterminus have produced an excellent debut album, and I recommend it to anyone keen to try something a little different. I love it, and it's fully deserving of four pints of foaming ale.
Scott Owen-Midlane: Bass/ Vocals
Maria Owen-Midlane: lead/ rhythm guitar/ vocals
Paul Reynolds: Lead/ Rhythm Guitar
Vinden Wylde: Drums