Nordic Giants – ‘Symbiosis’ album review

Nordic Giants Symbiosis album review
Credit: Neal Grundy

Mysterious post rockers Nordic Giants have returned with ‘Symbiosis’, the follow-up to 2015’s ‘A Sèance of Dark Delusions’ and their highly acclaimed documentary/soundtrack project ‘Amplify Human Vibration’. The new record finds them exploring all kinds of sounds (and emotions) from across the spectrum of life.

The opener ‘Philosophy of Mind’ kicks off the record with touches of freaky jazz and blasts of brass, all slowly and deliberately put together to complement the spoken-word samples that ask how – and why? – we combine what we know about ourselves with ‘what we think we know about the rest of the universe’. Things take a dramatic turn as the drums smash and glacial guitar tones morph into something more reminiscent of 65daysofstatic. The following ‘Anamorphia’ is more traditional post rock with evocative piano very much at the forefront while ‘Hjem’ continues in this more genteel vein; its swaying sounds opening up chinks of light through the dark intensity of what came across in the opener.

Recent single ‘Faceless’ is the first song on the album to feature a guest vocalist with Alex Hedley singing about sadness and asking ‘Are we all faceless?’ over and over again before eventually delivering emotional yet enigmatic howls towards the end. ‘Convergence’ takes the album into more of a chamber pop sound with positive melodies and an attitude that reminded us of last year’s Mogwai album. Freyja provides gorgeous vocals over the top of the ethereal ‘Spheres’ – the kind of song that stops you dead in your tracks – before the penultimate ‘Spires of Ascendancy’ ups the pace with a chamber pop sound that would sit happily alongside Efterklang or Sufjan.

The 7-and-a-half-minute closer ‘Infinity’ has a slow build, synthy approach with orchestral crescendos that again cannot fail to stir up something inside you. ‘Symbiosis’ is the sound of a band trying to make the most of life – and all the bright and dark elements it encompasses.

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