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Narrow House - Thanathonaut (CD)

dark metal / doom death, BadMoodMan Music, BadMoodMan Music
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BMM. 067-14 x
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The second album from the extraordinary Ukrainian band which started its way from the experiments with funeral doom metal and received a unique for the local scene musical and psychological experience. This time Narrow House goes for fusion of different subgenres of doom metal and other musical styles. Living choirs, saxophone, cello and contrabass were employed for “Thanathonaut” recording bringing individual sound and uniqueness to Narrow House music. The main theme of the album is war and nuclear weapons; otherwise the work continues the study of man inner world and its self-destruction which has been started earlier. The cover to symphonic doom death metal band Virgin Black with Russian lyrics presented in the album is also worth mentioning. Recording and mastering of the album were performed at the studio of famous sound producer Max Morton who also appeared as guest musician with bass parties. Another guest musician is a vocalist of Ukrainian band I Miss My Death. The album artwork is crafted by French photographer and artist Christophe Dessaigne whose works appear on covers of books by Stephen King, Agatha Christie, Margaret Atwood and other famous writers. To conclude, «Thanathonaut» is a solid conceptual material with original appearance distinguishing the band Narrow House among others at the CIS metal scene.

1 Crossroads 4:19
2 The First Day Of The Rest Of Your Life 3:26
3 Furious Thoughts Of Tranquility 2:32
4 The Midwife To Sorrows 5:04
5 Thanathonaut 5:08
6 A Sad Scream Of Silver 3:31
7 Crushing The Old Empire 2:59
8 The Last Retreat 3:50
9 Doom Over Valiria 2:08
10 Возрождение 7:12

Narrow House
Artist Country:
Album Year:
dark metal / doom death
CD Album
Jewel Case
BadMoodMan Music
Cat No:
BMM. 067-14
Release Year:
4 627080 610590
Country Of Manufacture:

Egyes stílusbeli besorolások zavaróak lehetnek, ahogyan az fennáll az ukrán Narrow House kapcsán is. A Metal Archives az „atmospheric” jelző mellett funeral doomnak titulálja a bandát. Nos, ebből csak két dolog nem állja meg a helyét: a funeral és a doom. Doomból valóban vannak elemek a lemezen, míg funeralból nincsenek, hozzátéve, hogy még semmi nem volt doom pusztán azért, mert lassú a zene, mert ezzel az erővel Edith Piaf slágereit is nevezhetnénk doom metalnak.
A Narrow House ezen a második lemezen elég furcsa metalt játszik, amely hol melankolikus és költői akar lenni, hol súlyos és doomos, másutt pedig művészi és elborult. Minden bizonnyal utóbbi célt szolgálja a szaxofon csatasorba állítása, ami ugyanakkor elég jól beágyazódik a zenébe ahhoz, hogy ne váljon erőltetetté. Van néhány komor, lassú részlet (pl. Crushing The Old Empire), nyilván innen a funeral doomozás, de akinek felületesek a funeral doommal kapcsolatos ismeretei, annak javaslom, hallgasson meg 1-2 Thergothon vagy Skepticism lemezt.
A Thanathonaut anyaga egy a kísérletezéstől sem visszariadó, progresszív törekvéseket ápoló zenekar sötét hangulatú atmoszférikus metalja, amelyben ötletekkel sűrűn találkozhatunk, azonban az eredmény elég fésületlen. Nem látni az egységességre való törekvést, így az album sokkal inkább témák halmaza, melyből csak néha bontakozik ki 1-1 szál, ami mutatná, merre tovább, hogy aztán ismét elvesszen az útkeresésben. Az sem véletlen, hogy többszöri végighallgatás után sem maradt meg bennem szinte semmi az énekből – ezen a téren teljesen elnagyolták a munkát az ukránok. Sokszor narrációt hallunk ének helyett, ami azonban hosszabb távon kissé fárasztó.
Nem adok rossz pontot a lemezre, mert egyrészt jóindulattal állok a zenekarhoz, másrészt vannak ötleteik.

Author: M.P.
The Grim Tower

Narrow House is a terrific Ukrainian export that revels in atmospheric instrumental proficiency, though the vocals are quite good as well. It’s very hard to tell you exactly what to expect with this one as it’s definitely got a sort of Ulver meets doom metal feel, especially in the areas where they incorporate additional live instruments and lots of extremely sexy saxophone. Hearing the cello mixed in with such potent doom is certainly a first for me, especially when everything is done quite so well. This is only their second album, but it definitely seems that something worthwhile is brewing; which might have reached its peak with Thanatonaut. Yes, it’s really that good. “The First Day Of The Rest Of Your Life 3:26″ incorporates thick amounts of gravel in addition to its thundering of doom and funerary atmospheres, which continue into “The Midwife To Sorrows 5:04″ where clean vocals appear, yet are backed with the same sorts of gothic atmospheres that we’ve heard in the beginning, right before a little bit of crunch and a harsh vocal element comes into play before female chanting, which definitely sets the stage for the record along with (Wait… do you hear those licks?) some astonishing surprises. The title track (5:08) brings in the 60’s keyboards and the sounds of a war march, which escalates into one of the most awesome things that I’ve ever heard accompanied by a saxophone. If you don’t like sax in metal, then I’m sure listening to the awesomeness of Thanatonaut will change that. “A Sad Scream Of Silver 3:31″ certainly features almost a crystalline sort of funeral, making me feel as if someone died in a crystal cavern. “Crushing The Old Empire 2:59″ kind of pokes at the US a bit, but it launches a great guitar solo amidst the pounding doom. But we were the country that dropped the bomb, so I guess we’ll have to live with that for the rest of our existence as a nation. “The Last Retreat 3:50″ continues instrumentalism (most of this record is instrumental, but that’s the beauty of it) with a romantic display of saxophone shoved into what almost sounds a little like dirty rock/thrash. The sax is what really sells the piece for me however. “Doom Over Valiria 2:08″ mixes electronics with funerary piano keys, which equal out to something of an astral burial. The feeling of this song is beyond words when it really begins to cook. It’s absolutely breathtaking. The final song on the disc is in Russian, but it’s a much longer piece that encroaches almost a little over seven minutes (7:12). The song itself serves as good instrumental, but the clips might be a little overbearing. I like clips when used in the right areas, but too much of these sound clips can distract from the nature of the band. This one actually does contain vocals though and gets rather vehement towards the very end, in addition to an amazing solo section, separated by a short section of silent instrumentation and a final tone of funereal spite. Narrow House have definitely made a monument in this album, which is definitely worth checking out due to its clever mixture of doom/death, electronics, atmospheres and live instruments. Not to mention all the sax. Definitely go tell everyone you can about this record, because these guys are in need of support and by all means, they deserve it. This is one of the most interesting records that I’ve heard all year, hands down. Go get Thanatonaut right now!
Pest Webzine

The second full-length album from Narrow House offers the listener even more diversity and experiments than their debut. If A Key to Panngrieb was surprising through their addition of violin, this new opus brings in even more such "unusual" instruments like cello or contrabass, quite bold move by the band, but that proves they are aiming at originality. The 10 tracks featured here have more instrumental parts, vocals are pretty scarce but whey they do appear they don't make a big difference anyway, so I gues it was a wise choice after all. To me it seems the guitar tone is not what this band needs (just listen to the opening riffs of The Last Retreat, it sounds like a begginer Hard Rock band, I would have liked it better a bit more downtuned, a bit heavier, and since we're talking about things I don't like I'd also say I feel the album has no flow, there are several parts when I lost interest. I would also have to admit there are a few parts when the music is absolutely great, innovative and fresh sounding, but as a whole the album sounds like an intermediary step, something that needs more work. Still an interesting pick, don't hesitate, this band is aiming high, be a whitness.

Author: Adrian
Spirit of Metal

Narrow House aura beaucoup changé dans les deux ans qui séparent A Key to Panngrieb, leur premier album, de Thanathonaut, leur nouvel opus. En effet, si le groupe travaille toujours avec le label russe Solitude Productions, on constate qu'outre le fait que le line-up a subit un certain nombre de changements, la formation ukrainienne a opéré une importante métamorphose musicale, le choix du label d'avoir fait appel à sa sous-division BadMoodMan Music à l'occasion de ce nouvel album n'étant d'ailleurs sans doute pas anodin.

Cette évolution stylistique est en effet particulièrement flagrante. Alors que le premier album proposait un Funeral Doom assez classique sur le fond, bien que doté d'une certaine personnalité, Thanathonaut nous offre une musique à la fois plus novatrice, moins sombre et plus facile d'accès. Exit la lenteur dépressive de A Key to Panngrieb: tout en conservant en partie sa dimension Doom, de part certaines séquences mettant à l'occasion l'accent sur des guitares relativement lentes ("Crossroads", le premier morceau de l'album, en est un bon exemple) ainsi que sur une certaine lourdeur assez massive, la musique de Narrow House a vu son rythme général augmenter (sans qu'il ne soit non plus question de véritables pointes de vitesse, malgré quelques passages assez intenses), perdant de fait tout lien avec l'étiquette Funeral et gagnant par là même une relative efficacité susceptible de toucher un public plus large que ne le faisait le premier album.

Mais l'essentiel est ailleurs, la base strictement Metal de ce Thanathonaut n'étant pas son argument principal. En effet, la personnalité de l'album repose pour une bonne partie sur les instruments utilisés: outre les classiques guitares, basse, batterie et clavier, l'album incorpore également du violoncelle, de la contrebasse et du saxophone. Si le violoncelle (qui était
déjà présent sur le premier album) et la contrebasse sont plutôt bien utilisés et se marient intelligemment avec le clavier pour enrichir la musique du groupe, lui donnant tour à tout de la finesse (on pensera aux pistes instrumentales "A Sad Scream of Silver" et "Doom over Valiria" par exemple) et de la grandeur (les orchestrations sur "The Midwife to Sorrows" notamment), on
ne peut que constater que c'est le saxophone qui se taille la part du lion et se pose comme la principale attraction de l'album. Celui-ci joue en effet un rôle majeur au sein de l'album, et ce à la fois au niveau des mélodies (on citera en exemple l'envolée particulièrement marquante que peut nous proposer un titre comme "Thanathonaut") et à celui de l'ambiance, cette dernière nous plongeant dans un univers à la fois psychédélique et tragique somme toute assez original et intéressant.
Enfin, on remarquera certains éléments destinés à ancrer la musique de l'album dans son concept, celui-ci tournant autour de l'utilisation de la bombe atomique. Outre l'utilisation de sonorités japonisantes sur un titre comme "Crushing the Old Empire", on notera la profusion d'extraits de discours et de films traitant de la question et utilisés tout au long de l'album. Leur utilisation est à double tranchant: si elle est effectivement assez intéressante en terme d'ambiance et est parfois à l'origine de passages très réussis (le très bon "The Last Retreat"), elle donne également parfois l'impression que les musiciens ukrainiens ont eu la main lourde à ce niveau et peut se révéler de fait un peu lassante. En outre, cette profusion de samples se fait au détriment des passages chantés, donnant de fait un statut purement instrumental à une bonne partie de l'album.

Les vocaux, quand ils sont présents, sont majoritairement sous la forme de chant clair masculin, souvent assez modifié (ce qui participe dans une certaine mesure à l'aspect finalement assez psychédélique de l'album), avec quelques pointes de chant plus extrême ici et là (en particulier sur la très bonne reprise de Virgin Black terminant l'album). Quelques touches de chant féminin font également leur apparition, notamment sur "The Last Retreat", créant à cette occasion un des passages les plus plaisant de l'album.

Le problème, c'est que de manière très paradoxal, l'album semble manquer d'ambition. En effet, si à de nombreux égards Narrow House semble être allé au bout de son concept et de son délire, le travail de composition s'avère au final être assez frustrant. Car si la qualité est clairement là, on peut difficilement ne pas regretter le fait que la majeure partie des morceaux ne dépasse pas les quatre minutes, là où une telle personnalité aurait clairement mérité des pièces bien plus longues pour exprimer tout son potentiel, la même critique pouvant d'ailleurs également se faire au niveau de l'album dans son intégralité, celui-ci ne durant que quarante minutes !
A ce titre, la reprise en russe (un exercice auquel le groupe s'était déjà essayé sur son premier album, avec une cover en russe d'un titre d'Esoteric) de "Renaissance", de Virgin Black, qui termine l'album, s'avère plus que bienvenue avec ses sept minutes et ses longs passages chantés.. Plus agressive que la très bonne version originale, cette reprise est une vraie réussite, mettant à profit la qualité du matériel original tout en s'adaptant étonnement bien à la personnalité de l'album. Il est toutefois un peu dommage de constater que l'un des morceaux les plus intéressants de l'album est une reprise, surtout chez un groupe ne manquant visiblement pas de talent..

Un étrange album que ce Thanathonaut, donc, qui risque de pas faire l'unanimité, en particulier chez les fans du premier opus, mais qui peut potentiellement toucher un public plus large que ne le faisait ce dernier. Quoi qu'il en soit, la formation ukrainienne nous montre qu'elle est de toute évidence pleine de potentiel..

Author: Peacewalker

Narrow House wurden 2008 in Kiew gegründet und scheinen nach eigenen Recherchen die einzige ukrainische Band zu sein, die sich dem Doom, im Speziellen dem Funeral-Doom verschrieben haben. Nach einer kurzen LP/EP mit insgesamt vier Tracks, erschienen 2012 mit dem Namen "A Key To Panngrieb", kann das neue, knapp vierzigminütige Werk "Thanathonaut" mit zehn Beiträgen daher durchaus als Debüt eingestuft werden. Und dieses Erstlingswerk hat es in sich. Losgelöst von allen politischen Wirren um den ehemaligen Ostblockstaat, liefert die Band ein Meisterwerk des Doom ab. Dick und fett produziert, atmosphärisch dicht, ja nahezu episch, abwechslungsreich und mit einer merklichen Prise Prog. Dazu gekonnt eingesetzte, heavy Riffs, die zum Bangen einladen. Ein bisschen Saxophon gefällig, kein Problem, den Part übernimmt Kso und dazu noch die melodischen Keyboardläufe. Zwangsläufig muss man sich fragen, ob sich das Land, zumindest musikalisch, nicht schon lange nach Westen gewandt hat? So was hätte man für eine schwedische, norwegische, vielleicht auch finnische Band erwartet, aber in der Ukraine? Bleibt nur zu hoffen, dass sich das Land weiter öffnet und solche Bands so die Möglichkeit haben, im westeuropäischen Metalraum ihr Können live unter Beweis zu stellen und entsprechende Verträge mit großen Labels einzugehen. Denn da gehören Narrow House ohne Zweifel hin. Für mich der beste Doom, oder sagen wir besser doomiger Industrial Metal, den ich seit langem, vielleicht auch jemals gehört habe.

Gehen wir ins Detail: Der Opener "Crossroads" setzt mit sphärischen Synthesizern ein. Es folgen aggressive Riffs und schließlich ein Cello a la Apocalyptica, das mit nachfolgend einsetzenden, technisch klingenden Vocals den Übergang in ein fettes Soundepos bildet. "The First Day Of The Rest Of My Live" verzichtet auf das Intro. Hier gibt es gleich das volle Brett mit düsteren, weiter progressiv klingenden Vocals und vollen Riffs, die zum Bangen nicht nur einladen, nein sie zwingen den Hörer praktisch dazu. Ruhige Pianoklänge bilden hier das Outro. "Furious Thoughts Of Tranquility" beginnt mit dem schon bekannten Cello. Den Song perfektionieren biestige Gitarrenriffs, melodiöse Synthesizer und klare Drums. Die Vocals bei "The Midwife To Sorrows" erinnern an Peter Tätgrens Pain, und nachfolgende Gitarren und Rhythmen an Metallica. Das ist kein Doom, sondern fetter Metal der Extraklasse, vielleicht mit dem Vorsatz Industrial. Der instrumentale Titelsong beginnt mit Schrittfolgen a la Rammsteins "Links, zwo, drei, vier" und dann..., Riffs, Riffs, Riffs, eine geile Leadgitarre und klare Synthis und das abschließende Klavier. "A Sad Scream Of Silver" ist ein balladeskes Gitarren- / Keyboard-Duett mit schön ausklingender Leadgitarre im Cellobackground. Das kurze, nur knapp dreiminütige "Crushing The Old Empire" packt die zuvor mehr an Industrial Metal angelehnten Riffs in ein doomiges Klangewand. Mit "The Last Retreat" folgt mein persönliches Albumhighlight. Hallgesänge, wieder diese Knallerriffs, Synthesizer und dann, da gibt es nur einen Vergleich. Blade Runner, der Titelsong der mich damals dazu zwang, alles von Jon Vangelis zu kaufen, was es auf dem Markt gab. Und hier nun endlich auch mal das Saxophon. Das Instrument klingt in einem Metalsong eigentlich ganz geil. Ich darf es ja eigentlich gar nicht schreiben, aber richtig mitgenommen hat mich der nächste Song. Selten habe ich eine so schön verträumt klingende Akustikgitarre im Duett mit einem Keyboard wie bei "Doom Over Valliria" gehört. An ähnlich sinnliche, akustische Momente kann ich mich eigentlich nur bei "Holiday" von den Scorpions erinnern. Leider dauert der Song nur etwas mehr als zwei Minuten. Das abschließende "Narrow House" ist der einzige Song, der richtig geshoutet beziehungsweise gegrowlt wird, und das zudem in der Landessprache. Er vereint Elemente des Doom, des Industrial und mit Anlehnungen an Emperor auch des Black Metal. Ihr merkt schon, Narrow House haben mich richtig mitgenommen. Für mich eines der besten Alben in 2014, das beste Doomwerk des Jahres ohnehin. Ich scheue mich hier in der Bewertung die volle Punktzahl zu geben, denn ich weiß, das nächste Album der Ukrainer wird noch besser....

Author: Andreas Gey
Metal Temple

NARROWHOUSE is an Apocalyptic Doom Metal band coming from Ukraine and formed in 2009, actually the first band to play a kind of Funeral song in their very conservative country.

Their influences are: CANDLEMASS, APOCALYPTICA, ELECTRIC WIZARD and VIRGIN BLACK. As a diehard Metal head, I am not quite sure where to begin. It is not what I would be listening to, yet I have to listen to it, thanks to my Chief Editor, but nevertheless, it is not that bad. I find it to be quite depressing, it would be a nice song to tell a tale and make a baby going to sleep. The songs are very slow with a high level of technology, keyboards and very gloomy. At times it feels like you are getting a message from space, nothing wrong with that really.

As production goes, it is very well done, great quality indeed. I would not give it to any friend of mine because most of them are Diehards like myself, but wait! It is not a bad album, therefore I would say to anyone, try it with an open mind and make up your own mind.

Author: Paulo Maniaco
Iye Zine

Circa un anno e mezzo fa chiudevo con queste parole la recensione del disco d’esordio degli ucraini Narrow House: “ … inoltre, considerando che il contenuto di questo lavoro è frutto di una gestazione durata circa due anni e che, nel frattempo, la band ucraina può e deve essere ulteriormente maturata, mi sento di scommettere qualche euro su un prossimo full-length in grado davvero di lasciare il segno … “

Diciamo pure che Thanathonaut non mi fa perdere la scommessa ma sicuramente è sorprendente la maniera attraverso la quale viene maturato questo risultato; la promettente band dedita ad un funeral doom che prendeva le mosse dai mostri sacri Skepticism e Shape Of Despair, ha decisamente cambiato pelle e lo ha fatto in maniera sicuramente originale riuscendo, peraltro, nell’impresa di non smarrire del tutto l’impronta doom del proprio sound.
L’elemento di novità più consistente è l’introduzione del sax, strumento che si erge a protagonista dell’album sostituendo di fatto la chitarra solista: in un primo momento ho pensato a come reagirei se un scherzetto simile me lo facessero, per esempio, i Saturnus, e vi risparmio volentieri i pensieri che mi sono passati per la testa, anche e soprattutto perché, devo ammetterlo per dovere di onestà, non ho una predilezione sconfinata per gli strumenti a fiato in senso lato.
Bisogna con altrettanta franchezza dire, però, che certi brani divenuti con il tempo immortali, senza il contributo del sax avrebbero smarrito parte del loro fascino (ne cito uno a caso, “Starless” dei King Crimson), quindi ben venga l’uso di questo strumento se l’operazione viene fatta con tutti i crismi, come accade in questo caso.
I ragazzi ucraini ci regalano, tra gli altri, un brano fantastico come la title-track che spazza via ogni dubbio sulla validità della loro scelta, anche se durante i primi ascolti non ho potuto fare a meno di chiedermi quale sarebbe stata la resa con la chitarra al posto del sax: la risposta è stata “sicuramente diversa, non necessariamente migliore”; peraltro, va ribadito che la chitarra non è stata bandita dal disco, anzi, oltre al puntuale contributo ritmico l’ottimo assolo di Crushing the Old Empire e la perfetta alternanza con il sax nella splendida The Last Retreat dimostrano che lo strumento simbolo del metal è stato tutt’altro che dimenticato.
In ogni caso non vorrei ridurre il commento di Thanathonaut ad una mero dibattito sull’opportunità di usare uno strumento piuttosto che un altro: l’abbandono delle sonorità plumbee del funeral non comporta automaticamente la perdita di un senso di doloroso disagio esistenziale nel sound della band ucraina ed il colore predominante è sempre un grigio plumbeo.
Il passaggio dal funeral al gothic viene sancito anche da un diverso uso delle voci, sempre decisamente appropriato, dall’utilizzo di una ritmica senz’altro più dinamica anche se i tempi restano comunque piuttosto rallentati, e con il netto accorciamento del minutaggio dei singoli brani, che non vanno di norma mai oltre i cinque minuti; inoltre, un altro strumento certo non inedito per il genere ma particolare come il violoncello, fornisce un ulteriore contributo a questo passaggio, non indolore ma sicuramente riuscito, tra un genere e l’altro.
In definitiva, dopo i primi ascolti che mi hanno lasciato non poche perplessità, Thanathonaut ad ogni giro nel lettore ha preso sempre più consistenza fino a manifestarsi compiutamente per ciò che realmente è : un gran bel disco di gothic doom, fatto di brani efficaci e ricchi di personalità e, in fondo, per intuire il nuovo corso musicale dei Narrow House, sarebbe bastato partire dalla fine, ascoltando il brano che chiude l’album, Возрождение, che nonostante il titolo in cirillico altro non è che la cover di “Renaissance” degli australiani Virgin Black, band che pare aver influito non poco sui nostri, almeno per quanto riguarda l’approccio poco convenzionale alla materia .
I Narrow House oggi sono semplicemente una band diversa, sicuramente migliore di quella che era ai tempi di A Key To Panngrieb, e questo loro disco va goduto attimo dopo attimo senza alcun tipo di preclusione o di retaggio stilistico: solo in questo caso si potrà apprezzare pienamente l’indubbio valore di questo lavoro.

Author: Stefano Cavanna
Dead Rhetoric

Ukrainian metallers Narrow House know how to paint an interesting picture. On their second album, Thanathonaut, they put forth an eclectic mix of genres to bring about something that is truly unique and oddly satisfying (this is technically doom metal we are talking about after all). But don’t come to this expecting anything approaching “normal.”

Within the doom genre itself, Narrow House spends time with all of it. There’s hints of funeral doom, psychedelia, and some stoner moments. But not happy to stay confined to the doom tag, you’ll find elements of progressive, jazz, and even some trace black metal here to really up the ante. And that’s not all; they also toss in some traditionally non-metal instruments such as the saxophone and cello. What you end up with is something that is rooted in doom, yet becomes a bit more uptempo at points to keep from becoming too downtrodden.

For the most part, things stick to the slow and methodical (again, ‘tis doom after all), but the swings from more riff-oriented segments to more somber and clean sections keep it from feeling too much like a slow burn. They also balance moments of gloom (“The First Day of the Rest of Your Life”) and powerful beauty (“Doom Over Valiria”) with ease. Some songs have sparse vocals (outside the instrumentals), with saxophone seemingly taking their place, providing the occasional jazzy edge. The vocals themselves are mostly clean, with some occasional low-in-the-mix growls but they work within the frame of the music. A final note is how they use samples that pertain to the songs themselves, and even with repeated listens, they don’t get boring or grate on the nerves as many of these types of things often do.

If you can deal with the more deliberate pacing and some saxophone usage, Thanathonaut is worth checking out. The broad path of influences and sounds the band pulls from give Narrow House a flavor all to their own.

Author: Kyle McGinn

Bloodstock came, and Bloodstock went, and while we at Femetalism are thoroughly bathed in the metal atmosphere it brings, we did neglect a few things. I know Thursdays can suck without metal to lift the spirits, and leaving you high and dry was a terrible thing to do, so this week we're back with a bit of funeral doom to sort out the doldrums. Or are we?

Funeral doom in itself is all well and good, but we like something a bit more unusual. This week I've managed to find a band who encapsulate all the best bits of funeral doom while also being completely off the wall. If there were a jazz version of doom metal, Narrow House would be it.

Formed in Kiev in 2008 under the name Funestum, they proclaim to be the Ukraine's first ever funeral doom band featuring five musicians and a handful of songs about solitude, death and self-destruction. Unfortunately over half the band left after only a year and Funestum was no more.

Thankfully founding members Yegor "Bewitched" Ostapenko and Katya Romanova reformed as Narrow House, bringing two others along with them. Not ones to hang about, they launched straight into their musical career with a full length album.

Narrow House's first album, A Key To Panngrieb, came out in 2012. Featuring song titles and lyrics entirely in Russian, I have referred to translations provided by the band. The themes seem to follow the those laid down by Funestum. Despair, false idols, loneliness all feature along with a lonesome sounding cello.

Weighing in at 45 minutes despite only being four tracks long, it's not an easy listen. Engaging, yes, but not easy. Album opener Последнее Пристанище (Last Refuge) takes its time, building slowly over its 14 minutes. Using a combination of keyboars, cello and viola the sound is sombre, yet not what you may expect from funeral doom. The orchestral style adds atmosphere and the haunting strings add a heart wrenching sadness.

The remaining tracks, Псевдорятунок (Pseudo-salvation), Стеклянный Бог (The Vitreous God) and Под Маской Этой (Beneath This Face) continue what the opener started, not shifting too much and, indeed, making for what seems like a single 45 minute experience.

After the relative success of A Key To Panngrieb, Narrow House set out to write their second album. Released a mere two years after the first, Thanathonaut takes the band in a somewhat ... alternative direction. Featuring some of the features of the first album (specifically the cello), a whole raft of new instruments and a whole new style was brought in. No longer producing funeral doom, but clearly something derived from it, Thanathonaut (meaning "navigator of death") takes an almost jazz approach to funeral doom.

<a href="" rel="nofollow">Thanathonaut by Narrow House</a>

The overall theme of the album seems to be nuclear war, and the mood of the album is certainly more lively than the first outing. Featuring ten tracks in only 40 minutes, the average track time is much reduced, and the tempo is much increased.

One thing that will immediately stand out from the new album is the new instrumentation brought in for it. The most noticable is the saxophone that provides most the melody, and the double bass and cello that together provide the soul shaking depths the music dives to. Sampled speeches and a choir also bring a whole new atmosphere to the album. If this is doom, it doesn't sound like it. And yet, somehow, it retains the identity of the first album.

<a href="" rel="nofollow">Thanathonaut by Narrow House</a>

As the album progresses through tracks such as "Furious Thoughts of Tranquility", "The Midwife of Sorrows" and "A Sad Scream Of Silver" the driving bassline of the string section combines with the saxophone brings to mind a version of Gerry Rafferty residing in the underworld. While many fans of funeral doom will be utterly put off by this mixing of styles, the progressive or avant garde metal lovers will find lots to enjoy.

There is apparently a cover of a Virgin Black song (a symphonic gothic metal band from Australia), but I'm not sure which one it is. I assume it's the last song, Возрождение. It's certainly the most symphonic gothic song on the album, although still with the new Narrow House sound.

Narrow House have produced a number of documentary videos available on their website to document their thought processes throughout the recording of Thanathonaut. It sounds like they're keen on experimentation, so it will be interesting to see if the band goes back to its funeral doom ways or carries on up this path of new and unusual things. Time will tell!

Author: Craig Andrews

De eerste plaat van Narrow House uit Oekraïne werd twee jaar terug besproken door collega Martijn van den Beukel en goed bevonden. Op het promoblaadje staat te lezen dat ze funeral doom spelen, deze mensen, daar heb ik echter bitter weinig van gemerkt.

Het debuut ken ik niet, maar wat ik hier hoor is toch iets anders dan wat je op het net terugvindt van feedback. Erg is dat niet, want de progressieve doom blijkt bijzonder sterk. Composities die je even goed van een Disillusion kunt krijgen, aangevuld met Paradise Lost-riffs (zoals ook collega Martijn wist te vertellen) en een zeer sterke saxofoon en pakkende cello tussendoor. Zowel de traditionele - Britse - doom als de fantasierijke constructies zijn ijzersterk en verdienen absoluut de aandacht van liefhebbers van progressieve doom en/of death, ook al is het niet meteen "hard" of "extreem". Ook wie van de andere kant komt van het progressieve spectrum leg ik niets in de weg. Dit is genreoverstijgend goed.

Author: Bart Alfvoet
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