Soulburn’s fourth album “Noa’s D’ark” is a continuation of the dark path they have stepped on when it got resurrected in 2014 with the second album “The Suffocating Darkness”. Although I’m a huge fan of “Feeding on Angels”, I also did enjoy both “The Suffocating Darkness” and “Earthless Pagan Spirit”, which has a more melancholic, occult-like and darker approach than the Asphyxiation of sound, not in the last place thanks by the vocals of Wannes Gubbels, and song writing on the debut.
On “Noa’s D’ark” a new face entered the arena as Marc Verhaar (bandmate of guitarist David Kreft in Graceless) replaced Bob Bagchus behind the drum kit and although at first sight not a lot have changed within Soulburn, it does have changed…I can’t really pinpoint it, but I had the feeling “this is it?” after a couple of spins.
First of all, Verhaar is doing a good job but Bagchus has something special, a groove trademark which is not easily to replace. Second of all, as it is more occult than the predecessors the up-tempo riffs seems to be reduced which was one of the perks of Soulburn in my book; the up-tempo riffs mixed along with Eric Daniels known Doomy riffs and leads. Also Twan variates with his vocals, even a bit Primordial’s Nemtheanga like, and the production is more clear than on the previous albums. You could say; all the elements are there for a more than good album, and yet it feels like everything doesn’t connect like it should.
It sounds gloomy, it sounds dark, it is definitely Soulburn, but for me personally the less appealing album of the discography. (Ricardo)
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I’ll spare everyone the confusing history of Soulburn in which it’s kind of a shuffle with Ashphyx, I assume that when you read this you already have an idea. In the end, that prior history is of less importance, this Dutch band released a new album in 2020 which is the follow-up to the meagrely received ‘Earthless Pagan Spirit’. The question is whether Soulburn will come out better on this rather blandly titled ‘Noa’s D’Ark’.
Upfront and admittedly, I was never a big Soulburn fan and with this album still fresh in my mind, that hasn’t exactly changed. The Doom/Death sound of the earliest recordings have shifted over time to a somewhat mellow mix between Death and Black Metal. A slight hint of Doom still hangs over it, but that has since been reduced to fairly minimal levels. But it doesn’t have the aggression or heaviness of a Death Metal record, nor the rawness or real darkness that Black Metal is known for. This makes the album sound a bit directionless and doesn’t bring enough of all the ideas to be convincing. Musically however, ‘Noa’s D’Ark’ does have some interesting parts, but are mostly limited to some good riffs and especially the nice roaring bass guitar stand out most. Also there are some good atmospheric passages like in the closing and doomy ‘From Archaeon Into Oblivion’, which is adorned with a lingering riff, a melodic lead and a sacred backing chorus. Other than that, it is really hard to find any highlights on this album. The vocals in particular are really deeply underwhelming, on ‘Assailed By Cosmic Lightning’ we hear truly toe-curlingly bad Bathorian ‘singing’ and when you think you’ve had it all, on ‘Anointed – Blessed – And Born For Burning’ you also get Martin van Drunen with a truly embarrassingly bad guest appearance.
Whereas with the previous albums I already wondered what the added value of this band was, with the release of ‘Noa’s D’Ark’ that question has become all the more urgent. With this new album, Soulburn is again not able to get out of the corner with all the far too weak-sounding and lifeless Dutch Death Metal, that surprisingly consists mainly of (new) bands with members from once legendary acts. What do we call that again? Oh yes, faded glory. (FelixS)