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Miel Noir – Honey & Ash

Miel Noir was originally a project from the mind of Dimo Dimov, a name whom many in the neofolk and dark ambient scenes will immediately recognize as having been a part of Sturmpercht and Svarrogh.  Since the release of 2010’s “Wabenheim” on Beverina, however, Miel Noir has expanded to include the permanent member in Marcel P. — another illuminated figure in the world of neofolk with his work in Allerseelen and Sagittarius.  Of course, the project at times includes guest musicians including the academic Gerhard Hallstatt whom delivers quality vocals for three tracks.  It shouldn’t be any surprise then that these two have met before for a release outside of Miel Noir, with the creation of “Fahl” — a dark ambient project whom released one album on The Eastern Front in “The Paths to Emptiness” with Sagittarius front-man Cornelius Waldner. With the mention of The Eastern Front, it should be said that up until the project’s move to Steinklang Industries for “Honey & Ash”, The Eastern Front were Miel Noir’s biggest supporters, releasing consecutively the project’s split with B-Machina (“Weiss”) and their sophomore effort, “Der Honigflügel”.

A strong point of interest for Miel Noir amongst eclectic listeners of dark music is their aversion to remain within any one genre.  Their music is highly influenced by industrial and experimental natures, so while overall their music has a neoclassical approach with neofolk-style vocals, the listener must still have an ear for abrasive music as well due to dark ambient textures and aggro / martial industrial influences.  Even subtle noise influences make themselves known through tracks like the minimal constructed yet emotionally-charged “Honigblut” and the visceral “Unspoken Words” with a sound that overtakes the track and sounds so primal that it takes you to the very depths of the hives that are alluded to.  “Black Waves Rising” focuses on a curiously performed apocalyptic-sounding vocal chorus behind a mildly bombastic guitar and industrial percussion that creates a death-march deserving of the track title, elements that eventually dissolve into a synth-laden funeral dirge.  These dark sounds inhabit most of the album and create an intriguing foreign atmosphere — it’s an aura that never quite gets surreal in nature as it’s certainly familiar, but is still beyond grasping.  Many tracks are piano compositions buried behind raw production, dark electronics and spoken word / mantra-style male vocals with a few sparse female moments.  “Honey & Ash” is full of melodic hooks as well from repetitious vocal lines to an unusually melodic bass presence in most tracks.  Piano melodies are mostly subdued but can burst from their cacoon for powerful moments in fleeting moments.

Thematically, the album seems to be largely Greek-themed primarily behind the mythology of the Μελίαι (Meliai) — nymphs of the ash tree whom were born from the blood spilled when Cronus castrated his father Uranus.  The Meliai would eventually give birth to mankind of the Age of Bronze.  The “honey” in “Honey & Ash” appears to be derived from the Manna-ash, the sap/méli/”honey” of which was fed to the infant Zeus by the Meliai.  Of course this mythology would be applied in an introverted way by the artists behind Miel Noir, so this observation is merely an assumption on my part and not a fact as noted by the band.

The booklet itself is as interesting as the music as every track features a new illustration as created by the German artist Claudia Summerer whom is relatively known outside of a couple illustrations that she has done for the Zauberfeder Verlag (Magic Feather Magazine).  Each illustration is accompanied by an excerpt from the lyrics of the track that helps to explain the image created.  As with most of the track titles on the album, honey is a very consistent theme and the connected subjects of bees and honeycombs are present in nearly every illustration.

Strangely, through Miel Noir’s eclectic taste in music creation, they seem to have given birth to a sound that mixes perfectly the experimental side of post-industrial music, the martial elements of neofolk, and even the neoclassic, mischievous faerie-like world of artists on the Prikosnovenie label — a magickal combination of sound that even hinted at by the seven-pointed star that Dimov proudly wears around his neck.  Even EBM elements can be found in tracks like the incredibly catchy “The Burning Season”.  While this album has a lot to offer to most corners of the post-industrial world, some may find the music too fractured.  There isn’t a definitive ‘flow’ to the music because of it’s very nature, but to some listeners like myself, that is all part of the charm to Miel Noir.  Genre parameters be damned, this is beautifully raw, organic and sometimes abrasive music from a duo of free thinkers.  Beautifully dark, but not over-polished.

Track List:

01) Das Honig-Opfer
02) Sonnenmann
03) Honigglut
04) In Empty Coldness
05) Honiggöttin
06) Duft Steigt Empor
07) The Burning Season
08) Der Feind
09) Honig-Traum
10) It’s Me
11) Der Himmel Fällt
12) Schwarzer Honig
13) Unspoken Words
14) Black Waves Rising
15) Dunkle Waben Birgt Der Fluß
16) Eherne Ulmen

Rating: 5/5
Written by: Sage
Label: Steinklang Industries (Austria) / SKD28 / CD
Neoclassical / Experimental / Industrial