The Smashing Skull Sessions

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Domhain – Nimue

For me, my teenage years played a huge part in shaping and moulding my musical journey. Scenes and trends came and went, but there was always a specific style of music rooted deep within my subconscious that laid the foundations and the pillars to what mattered to me from a musical standpoint. From an Irish perspective, bands like Mourning Beloveth and Primordial kept that breeze-blown flame flickering amidst a sea of titans. Bands like Anathema , My Dying Bride , Paradise Lost and In The Woods… carved out a blissful pathway for me to follow, a trail that is etched within me and which houses my adoration for downcast and atmospheric music.

Well, that flame I mentioned earlier has been re-ignited, and is now burning bright, casting a beautifully cloaked shadow across the foggy musical landscape. Belfast born Domhain have released an album that not only respectfully pays homage to all the bands I mentioned earlier, but it toys with a more modern approach to melancholic music. Domhain have managed to infuse some dreamy post-black fuzziness along with the more coarse and frenzied black-metal tirades into their sound and it's result is an avalanche of emotions, power and ethereal splendour.

To quote Domhain’s Bandcamp page, “Nimue" is their debut record, a three song mini album blending doom and atmospheric BM, progressive, post-metal. Made of long-form songs filled with myths and remembrances, Nimue is ethereal metal at its best, anchored by the band's unique dynamics and vocal harmonies. That paragraph encompasses what this band are all about, but there is so much more to discover as this album seeps into your bloodstream and releases its browbeaten beauty through every artery and vein.

The opening track, The Mourning Star is a ten-minute epic that holds within it a romance and a love for the crestfallen. Lush and rich guitars strum gently as pitch perfect percussions roll and rumble over proceedings. Dual vocals weave and dance in unison as they grow from the earth and soar skywards, glowing and reverberating through the warm winter sunshine. However, storm clouds gather and eclipse it all under the hardened vocal of Andy Ennis and some heavy, thundering riffs courtesy of Bryn Mills and Nathan Irvine. What is so special about this track is not only the fact that it ebbs and flows though harsh wintery squalls and warm tepid waters with the help of Raul Andueza on cello , but those vocal harmonies of Anaïs Chareyre-Méjan , Andy & Bryn are some of the most incandescent and soul- stirring euphonies I have ever heard. What an incredible track to welcome Domhain to the world.

Silent Frequency begins with more celestial vocals and a guitar tone that reminds me of Primordial’s Empire Falls, with those drawn out cords and that emotionally charged atmosphere they are synonymous with. However, a blast beaten tirade along with Andy’s bellowing bass guitar erupts and pours its visceral rains down on all that stand before it. Shredded guitars conjure up a black metal fury before a glorious lead guitar solo graces the closing stages of the track, spiralling and spinning out of control right till the death.

A Pile Of Stones Upon Her Grave is the final track, and if the title doesn’t raise the hairs on your arms, the music certainly will. With the brilliant Jo Quail bringing her sorcery and magic to the table, this has epic written all over it. Slow building, and dripping in a forlorn melody, the track leads the procession along a rugged and weather-beaten path, with ghostly vocals crying Nimue through the heavy, solemn air. Piano keys weep and guitars lament, until a force of unbridled power and might comes crashing in under waves of vicious riffs and wicked drums. The vocals snarl and rasp with bitter conviction as the atmosphere blackens and air turns bloody. It’s unnerving, its relentless but it is absolutely jaw dropping.

Music can move you and it can transport you to many worlds. Nimue is a story of old, laced in all the pain and suffering of harsher times past. It aches and it weeps, but it’s those gut-wrenching emotions that light a fire within me and make me appreciate and respect music as a greater entity. Domhain have released something really special here.