Norilsk is the northernmost ‘big’ city on our globe (in Siberia), yet it is also a band consisting of Nicolas Miquelon (also known as bass player for e.g. Damnus, Mortör, Kintra and Outrage AD) and Nick Richter (drummer for bands like Damnus and Outrage AD). Formed in 2012, the duo debuted in 2014 with the independently released EP Japetus. This one got followed by two full length studio albums, The Idea Of North (2015) and Le Passage Des Glaciers (2017), both released via Canada’s finest Hypnotic Dirge Records label. This newest epos gets released via Hypnotic Dirge Records once more, and is considered an EP. However, since Weepers Of The Land lasts for more than half an hour, I wouldn’t exactly call it a mini-release.
Nicolas (bass, guitars, vocals, lyrics) and Nick (drums, backing vocals) actually did write and record the material for this album at the same time of their former album, Le Passage Des Glaciers. It was created with Mike Bond as studio wizard. These pieces didn’t make it to the full-length album, yet since these four songs (a fifth one comes from another source – only on the physical edition, not downloadable) are considered too interesting to ignore, and because they were little different from those that made it to Le Passage Des Glaciers, the band and label decided to have it released whatsoever. That’s the story behind this album. It gets (got) released in a four-panel digipack, limited to 400 copies, with cover artwork taken from William Blair Bruce’s The Phantom Hunter, a sketch made by this Canadian painter in 1888.
With No Sacred Ground, the album has a skull-crushing opener to bring to the audience. It is a grooving track with an enormous epic spirit and a rocking attitude. The approach is melodious, rhythmic and atmospheric, with splendid bass grooves, varying guitar melodies, a lot of diversification in tempo (from extremely doomy over mid-tempo to little faster than my brother’s car), a semi-acoustic intermezzo, several inspirational leads / solos, and a wide range on vocals. When talking about the latter, well, Damian Smith of Altars Of Grief / Oblivion’s Eye (ex) fame guests here. The next track, The Way, starts with a sample from some horror movie, though I’m not sure which one, and soon it turns into a magisterial Doom epos with a focus on guitar leads, ultra-doomed riffing, deep grunts and a pounding rhythm section. It has a haunting, even asphyxiating atmosphere, and the injection of more samples makes the whole experience even more spooky. A shame that this piece is a short one (3:33). Next comes Toute La Noirceur Du Monde, which means something like ‘all the darkness of the world’. It has something bleak, with once again a nice vocal variety and cool solos by long-time collaborator Mort Morion (the members’ colleague in Outrage AD, and involved with Blood Moon Knights too). I feel a certain hint of Death Rock within this song, based on my feelings when listening to the leads, the calmer intermezzos, and the addition of bells. A graveyard approach with a Post-Rock attitude isn’t a wrong statement. Tomber 7 Fois (‘falling seven times’) is that CD-only track, and it is a cover of the beautiful French-Canadian singer Mylène Farmer (known from tracks like Désenchantée or Désobéissance, or her collaboration with Sting aka Stolen Car). I am not sure what to think about it, but it certainly does not annoy, this version. But that’s something you must find out yourself. Weepers Of The Land ends with the title track, which is, with its length of 10+ minutes, the longest piece on this release. It is a gargantuan Doom epic, dwelling into the tradition of the timeless scene. Okay, it totally lacks an own face, and it has every ‘traditional’ ingredient such song needs: clean, blackened and grunting vocals (with guest vocals of Longhouse singer Joshua Caver), dual guitar leads, pounding drums (great), a hypnotic rhythm section, floating solos (once again performed by Mort Morion), acoustic guitars (cf. the end of the song, which is a very cool, enthralling grande finale) and many changes in structure and tempo.
Even though I do not dislike this band’s former recordings, I am not sure whether there is a huge progression. The sound quality is okay, and I am glad that these ‘lost songs’ have the opportunity to be heard. But do not expect something mind-blowing, because Weepers Of The Land is not exactly ‘album of the year’ material. But then again, I’ve heard some likable Doom stuff on this album, and there is a huge dose of variation too, so I think that fans of this band’s former material must check this out for sure.