Having not been exposed to NUMERON’s debut, Void, of 2021, I wasn’t expecting much – or anything, really – from the strangely titled Road To Valhalla. In and of itself, the title places an image in the mind, sure. But when the band in question is based in Indonesia, I find myself thinking of Celtic folk bands from Peru, Southern American-styled doom/riff rock from St. Petersburg, Russia, what have you. Yet Road To Valhalla is what I’ve chosen, so let’s wander on…
‘Light Upon The Ground’ starts our journey, awash in synths and processed vocals, Lufti’s register thus far goth-influenced, but it seems at home amid the keys, almost mid-period SENTENCED, until the sharp, cutting blizzard begins. Tremolo-heavy, let with a low end still present, the lyricism already has me, “The light upon the ground at my right side / Now the rain bathes and move the wind…” a welcome respite from those black metal bands who flip through the Lesser Key Of Solomon like it was a rhyming dictionary.
Hushed, beckoning, ‘Blood In My Vein’ too-quickly devolves into by-the-numbers blackness at its start, and here’s where we see the first true elements of whatever “blackgaze” is supposed to be. Don’t misunderstand, the peaks and valleys are all there, harsh vocals, stark yet sublime interludes. It’s just that we’ve been here before, some would say too often of late. Featuring Maxim Sysoev of Russian Lovecraft devotees ULTAR, ‘Noise Of Dystopia’ glimmers brightly in moments, clatters in others, again, not bad per se, but definitely beholden to a pattern, bolstering preconception as opposed to shattering it, which this style needs, given the current glut of practitioners.
‘Valhalla’, however, truly shines in its latter half, the seemingly ever-present keys in the interlude and the build after lifting the tune from the crowd after an otherwise standard section. ‘Epifora’ closes, ending the trip completely unexpectedly, captivating to the point that it’s almost as if NUMERON was hiding another band within itself, and simply waited too long into the album to reveal it. At once fiery and finessed, this is what I’d been hoping for all along.
And I suppose that’s it, in the end. To these ears, Road To Valhalla seems to be the sound of a band searching for itself. And they’re still allowed to do that this early on in its journey. I truly hope they find NUMERON over time, because there’s potential here.
Review By: Lord Randall
Road To Valhalla
Tragedy Productions / Meuse Music Records