As a feature writer for an online heavy metal magazine, it isn’t often that I get the chance to write about UNESCO World Heritage Sites, mysterious land markings, or Peru. Today, however, is not a normal day, and it is with my introduction to today’s Band of the Day, Russian-based post-metal ensemble Naska, that I learned all about the Peruvian Nazca desert, which the band take their name from, and the ancient lines which lie there, forming various images. Naska (the band, keep up, now) have recently released their debut album, Huk, a conceptual piece which centers around the Nazca lines, even going as far as having each song being titled a coordinate within the Nazca desert.
Huk is a monolithic piece, drawing on both post and black metal influences, combining those together with an entirely mysterious subject matter, which has bewildered archaeologists for decades, to create an album which is as haunting as it is alluring. It presents itself as being a titanic force of sound, somehow contorting itself in such a way that even the quiet elements of the album manage to feel huge. The movement from slow, almost-tranquil, ambient styles of play in to full-band eardrum assaults is seamless, with one becoming another before the listener even has a chance to understand what has happened.
It is in these faster, more aggressive segments of the album where the black metal influences reign; mountainous roars and minor-key, shredded guitar riffs enveloping everything they can. Though this may be intimidating to hear, it is certainly the ambient areas which can be much more frightening to listen to.
Through the strategic use of reverb and echo, Naska take normal, everyday sounds, such as the wind blowing or footsteps, and distort them in to something different. What is interesting is the fact that the expertly placed silences are just as important to the atmosphere of the album as the music is, creating a true feeling of loneliness and isolation, all the while feeling like you are totally overwhelmed and insignificant. Naska have done an excellent job of making the listener feel as if they truly are stranded within the Nazca dessert; alone and hopeless.
It is without a doubt then, that the band have ultimately succeeded in delivering the concept for Huk. If you are willing to have your senses tested and fancy learning a bit about one of South America’s most ancient mystery, then allow yourself to be at the mercy of Naska.
Huk is out now and is available through Naska’s bandcamp.