Nornír – Urd

Germany’s Nornír have a new EP out, and it’s called “Urd.” It’s promising up-and-coming black metal that’s decked with a Scandinavian design. I get the feeling we’ll be hearing more from Nornír in the future. Here are the members: Angrist is on guitar. Søvn plays bass. Drums are handled by Farliath. Front-woman and guitarist, Lethian, gives us viciously powerful vocals.

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I invite you to explore the workings of “Urd.” What will become of us after this harsh, brewing storm? Let’s begin:

The EP opens its door with “På den andre siden,” and a blast of intense instrumentation instantly crashes into us. Meet the fiery tremolo picking and the heated, tormented screams. It’s the perfect delivery of disaster, and the woeful melody makes it even more charming. What other presence  could be lurking nearby? It’s “Winterthrone.” Stripped and magnetic, this track seems to sweep through and draw onlookers into the pits of an eternal suffering; the guitar-work feels blunt and commanding—traits that make black metal the addictive concoction that it is.

Even though “Above the mountains” begins with a sallow vibe, the rest of the song stirs up a hurricane of drums and thorny guitars. We’re given a farewell through “På denne siden,” where heightened melodies give voice to revelations of humanity’s mysteries.

“Urd” seems to have reached through ages to bring these zesty four numbers forth. Frosty riffs, rabid percussion and raw vocals are what have made the EP so attractive. Walk “Urd”‘s charred valleys and look to its ominous skies, and be renewed.

 

Fortíð – The Demo Sessions

Fortíð serves us bleak black metal with much Viking attitude, and they’ve got it down pat. The band’s origin is in Iceland, but Norway is now their home. “Fortíð” is Icelandic for the word, “past,” and we’re honored to be taken back in time to examine Norse lore throughout their records. Fortíð’s latest work is “The Demo Sessions,” released in 2016. It’s a compilation of tunes that’ll leave you floored by how relentlessly gripping they are.

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Cover Artwork

“Illt skal með illu gjalda” introduces the album with swarming black metal riffs and acidic harsh vocals. It’s not long before something beautiful happens: Clean vocals appear and settle into breathtaking instrumentation.

The second track is Fortíð’s cover off of a classic Enslaved record, “Vikingligr veldi.” Their version of “Lifandi lífi undir hamri” is a real showstopper that would make Enslaved proud. After this, we get better acquainted with how Fortíð have stamped their originality on the extreme metal circuit.  On “Nornir,” catchy phrasing appears, acting as a reminder that the guys understand the importance of leaving listeners with something memorable. Next, the nearly rhythmic “Galdur” steps heavily while angry guitar riffs claw from a distance. “Hof” is a downright ode to emotional intensity, and the “Pagan Prophecies” is a bold offering; watch for the soulful guitar solo that appears here.

“Electric Horizon” and “Sun Turns Black” turn out to be a devious pair, unleashing symphonic tendencies that seem to command with grit.

Pay close attention to the surfacing of “Ad Handan,” which has a melancholy dawning and grows in these sorrowful tones once percussion arrives. The whole piece is wickedly delectable.

“Heltekinn” has an appealing structure. Inside, mighty guitar-work reigns. We part ways with the mournful chiming of “Framtíð.” Reflective and thunderous, it’s a fitting way to end the record.

The melodies on “The Demo Sessions” range from expressive and heartfelt to frosty and unforgiving. The traditional mystique of black metal is present. Somewhere within the tones, I feel the way Fortíð communicates an open, honest vibe in the music, and you just can’t help but pick a song and lose yourself in the grim.

Grizzlor/Godstopper Split

The new Grizzlor/Godstopper split has rounded up some rowdy tunes to share with listeners. The record, including two tracks each from Grizzlor and Godstopper, was released last month via Corpse Flower Records. Connecticut’s Grizzlor and Toronto’s Godstopper both stick close to the noise rock sub-genre. There’s no doubt, however, that the bands’ boast fiesty personalities here.

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Cover Artwork 

Grizzlor’s musical offerings are up first: Bass and percussion in the beginning of “Are You Doing Your Job?” give off a chunky and weighted vibe; as this trudging dominates, vocals make accusatory jabs at a swollen atmosphere. Grizzlor’s other tune presents another mood. “Jack & Diane” turns attention toward upbeat drumming. Guitars leave an iridescent finish from their spot in the background, and you gotta stand back and admire the way they shine gloriously.

Godstopper’s tracks paint another scenerio. “Down Here For Long” shows off a raspy grit. It’s wonderfully angst-filled melody gives the green light to have a tantrum or two. While “Down Here For Long,” is set in a feverish way, “Cellophane” insists on unfurling a warm, sweet vibe.

The record is fueled by rambunctious sounds that give a snapshot of how Grizzlor and Godstopper represent the core of their work. There are many flexible elements, and the prize is in how listeners are given the leeway to interpret them. Another point that’s guaranteed: This release will leave you frazzled by the high voltage energy that surges throughout.

Hån – Facilis Descensus Averni

It’s about time an underground black metal band spoil us. Switzerland’s Hån gives us nothing less than grim emotion on their latest full-length, Facilis Descensus Averni. Hån is the Norwegian word for “scorn,” and their tribute to ridicule is stained on each and every one of the tracks on Facilis Descensus Averni. 

Loose percussion ignites track number one, “Black Banners”; a swarm of melancholy instrumentation treads under piercing screams, awaking the theme  of the album. Guitars scratch through “Desublimation,” and the arrangement of the melody and vocals makes it feel like a rallying, dark anthem. “Distant Lights” quickly builds up and feeds listeners hyper blast beats. Sealing up the album is “Summum Bonum.” Vocals and instruments work together to give a final outcry, but the album’s effects are to be everlasting.

Hån’s interpretation of black metal is beyond satisfying. Songs don’t bleed together in a monotonous lump; each track is marked with its own vibe, where the vocals come from a believable place. Facilis Descensus Averni buzzes with woeful melodies, and the percussion maintains an urgent and forceful nature throughout the songs. Overwhelmingly honest and overwhelmingly desolate sums up Facilis Descensus Averni. 

 

Heretoir – The Circle

Journey with me into the colorful phases of the human experience. There’s newness, hardship, healing, triumph and bleakness of ending. Our companion is dressed up in the atmospheric/post-black metal tones of Heretoir. The name (meaning “going an own way”) suggests the band’s devotion to individualistic discovery; so, you know Heretoir’s musical efforts buzz with emotive depth and a keen eye. From their debut full-length (2011’s Heretoir), we watch the band expanding these elements as they settled deeper into the modern metal side of the music scene. Heretoir’s latest effort (out in March) is The Circle, ambitiously addressing the cycle of life.

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Heretoir

The Circle starts off with a fleeting introduction, “Alpha.” The tune serves as a passageway to some serene realm. Early on in “The White” calm, clean vocals rest against a tasteful batch of melodies. Drums dance us into other shades of the album, and sure enough, we get acquainted with harsh vocals that channel desperation. A quick shift in percussion brings us to another phase in our musical trek: It’s the guitars’ turn to shine on  “Inhale.” Notes seem to sparkle under distant beams, and suddenly, our soundscape releases a sprinkling of Opeth-like sensibilities. A thumping bass sweeps up these remnants as it leads us into a dimmer zone.

The approaching track, “Golden Dust,”is a whirlwind from a more neutral plane but that doesn’t stop it from making an outstanding impression. I enjoy the percussion, softly ticking underneath delightful harmonies.

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The Circle (Cover Artwork)

Two instrumental pieces, “My Dreams are Lights in the Sky” and “XIX XXI XIV,” carry ambition with them from the moment we first meet until our parting. Next up is “Exhale.” those with a taste for the intense, darker side will be satisfied with how this well this track satiates. We’re also treated to a stampede of percussion and aggressive vocals.

Much like its moniker, “Eclipse” shows that change is underway. Several musical sections appear here, then duck and cover themselves, sticking to the title. Meanwhile, we’re still walking hand-in-hand with the Heretoir post black metal formula. Undertones call to mind the feeling of being drenched, weighed down after some downpour. Then, the renewing sounds of “Laniakea Dances (Soleils Couchants)” give a musical pep talk. The harsh vocals here seem to be reaching toward regained hope and light. Passion quickly fills up “Fading with the Grey” and fizzles out with the last number, “The Circle (Omega).”

On The Circle‘s shell are the glossy tones of post black metal and the thick presence of atmosphere. After having peered into the album, the textured planes of existence are revealed: It seems every emotion is explored, and there’s a jagged riff or hazy melody to describe it. The Circle sums up the life journey beautifully; add the album to yours and be rewarded.

Morbid Messiah – In the Name of True Death Metal

The cover says it all. The skull of a beast falling (or floating) in darkness welcomes us into a world of the foul and macabre. Morbid Messiah provides the soundtrack. The Mexican act drives death metal straight into your ears and delivers it unfiltered. On their new EP, In the Name of True Death Metal, they show respect for the classic death metal elements that have kept this style alive throughout the decades. That means you can expect guitar riffs that roar with might, equally rowdy guttural vocals and fast, pulverizing drumming.

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In the Name of True Death Metal (Cover Artwork)

Sounds guide you into a cramped cellar and trap you in to experience this woe again and again. Things get good and settled in once “Putrid Voices” appears. Morbid Messiah pushes their signature formula of raw instrumentation, but prepare to worship the delicious guitar solo that soars atop of the rubble—revealing to listeners an aerial view of some disastrous scene. “Condemned to Hell Sores” trudges along in the beginning, but amps up its forces gradually. This zone is dominated by thick guitar riffs and varied shades of vocal delivery. Then we have “Legions of Death,” ending our metallic joyride under three minutes, but it’s packed with plenty of grimy goodness for us.

Morbid Messiah have whipped up a traditional death metal brew, and it hits the spot. They sought out to leave us with a genuine death metal experience, and we got it. Guitar riffs remain chunky, feral solos pop up, the percussion is quite irresistible. This is death metal that’s likely to remind you of an old school persona, and the production is great. In the Name of True Death Metal is available via Godz Ov War Productions on January 31st. Here, try a bit:

 

Blodspor – Only Sheep Cry Wolf

Oslo’s Blodspor designs the kind of metal that’s guaranteed to get listeners energized and in a frenzy. Over the years, the outfit has been gaining popularity through their stellar gigs. That’s where the band’s summoning of death metal, black metal, hardcore, punk and grindcore commences. Blodspor captured these different levels of intensity on the full-length, Laughing Through the Violence (2011) and have kept the aggression going on their current four-track EP, Only Sheep Cry Wolf. 

Starting off the EP is “Overthrow,” where we come face to face with unforgiving harsh vocals, black metal-esque percussion and one fierce death metal attitude. These forces guide listeners through the remainder of the EP, but the standout guitar-work on “Tap-dancing to the Beat of the War Drum” makes it especially enjoyable and hard to forget. The same can be said for “By Our Own Fire We Shall Burn,” where clean vocals join the harsh ones to give the song some dimension. The EP comes to a close with the punishing sounds of “Black Mass.”

Blodspor gets the underground metal sphere quaking with these vicious, ferocious numbers. It’s your tried-and-true metal done with a D.I.Y. punk spirit; the effect? Heads will bang, and feet are bound to stomp. If you’ve been looking for a outlet to release your emotions, here it is. Blodspor refuses to be weighed down by the limitations of labeling their style, but one thing we know for sure is that listeners get the chance to dissect, clarify emotions. Perhaps it’s better said in Norwegian: Only Sheep Cry Wolf består av fire intensive låter. Bra gjort!

 

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Only Sheep Cry Wolf (Cover Art)

Only Sheep Cry Wolf EP

Dö – Tuho

It’s dark, stoner doom from Helsinki! Dö released Tuho this spring, but with its icy melodies and merciless riffs, this full-length is has the perfect vibe for these waning days of autumn and the dim winter days ahead. Meet the musicians: Deaf Hank handles bass and is the lead vocalist. Big Dog is on guitar and vocals. Joe E. Deliverance on drums as well as vocals. How the three piece musters this massive sound is beyond me. Follow the tracks on Tuho, and you’ll quickly understand what I mean:

“Born Under Black Wings” is pretty catchy, simple and refuses to be watered down from the perspective of its thick instrumentation. A cozy atmosphere is present to help you savor the moment. It’s here where we’re introduced to some unruly harsh vocals.

Charging rhythms invade “Everblast II (The Aftermath)” and they also become something more groovy; bits of melodic vocals float throughout this zone. We’re also treated to a mangy solo near the end, and boy is it wild and flavorful! The next track, “Ex Oblivione” is a furious piece that eventually meets up with “Kylmä,” which takes a slow walk through a standard sludgy-toned soundscape. This parts to reveal a whirlwind of guitars. What happens next shakes things up a bit: The acoustic entry of “Hail the Fire” rings with warmth and deep recollection. Not only does the song offer another way to do heavy music, but it gives a refreshing change of scenery. Our last stop is “Forsaken Be Thy Name,” leaving plenty of madness to go around as it ends around twelve minutes.

With Tuho I can tell Dö are on the right track. The amount of creativity exchanged between the guys results in an album with all kinds of extreme metal goodies. Atmospherically, stoner and sludge come to mind, while tempos make you think of doom. We get grade-A production. We get the bold riffs. We get the sweet, mucky tones. The important thing is that the songs stick with you, and that can be sensed just seconds into Tuho. Listen to it and let yourself get addicted.

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Tuho (Cover)

“Born Under Black Wings”

Monotheist – Review

My review of Celtic Frost’s “Monotheist” is here. Dig in!

Takk Og Farvel; Tida Er Blitt Ei Annen – Review

Myrkgrav has  a new with a new full-length, “Takk og farvel; tida er blitt ei annen”! It translates to “Thank you and farewell; times have changed.” The Norwegian metal project is known for wowing fans of the Scandinavian side of folk metal.”Takk og farvel” promises a powerful listening experience, thanks to a tasteful blend of fragrant harmonies, the inclusion of the Hardanger fiddle and only the most intense of black metal sounds.

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Takk og farvel; tida er blitt ei annen (Cover)

 

Death – Human

 

Check out my review of “Human” from one of the most accomplished extreme metal bands, Death!

Adore – Wanderers of Oblivion

Adore simply quenches thirsts for raw black metal. This one-woman project, headed by Texas’ Shantell Daggs, has been making heatwaves over the past few years. After putting out the demo Infamy of the Black Legions (2013), Adore released the full-length Wanderers of Oblivion in 2015. The album has been gaining attention with every track. Wanderers of Oblivion offers thirteen tunes that embody the familiar spirit of black metal and simmer with a fiery touch.

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Wanderers of Oblivion. Photo: Bandcamp

First up is “A Mystic Transcendent Spirit,” leaping forward into a sour abyss. The heavy, catchy sounds of “The Bitter Winter” come forth with featured vocals from Hæresiarchs of Dis’ Cernunnos. Following this track is “The All-Deceiving” with its wild-spirited guitars. Announcing the planet’s persona, “Venus Ablaze,” is fragrant as it features light tremolo-picking. “Cold World” has interesting guitar tones, nearly nostalgic. “Dreary” comes at you at full-force and includes backing vocals from Grant Gordon, and more guest vocals from Cernunnos are wedged in the depths of “The Hidden Path.” After dropping off several, varied moods, “There’s Something Out There,” gives you the feeling something ominous awaits and doesn’t end the album without setting off a few goosebumps.

For those craving only the bleakest of black metal sounds, you’ve got to check Wanderers of Oblivion out. Where metal sub-genres tend to favor crossing these days, this release sticks to the fundamentals of black metal. Vocally, there are plenty of screams to go around, and unique melodies sprout throughout the album. The lyrical themes set listeners on a journey through outer-space and the mystique, and the instrumentation is just the thing to accompany that experience.

You can keep up with Adore on Facebook and YouTube.

Endzeit – Years of Hunger EP

Lahti’s Endzeit play “raw, apocalyptic black metal” and recycle this description for their new EP, Years of Hunger. Citing the capitalistic downfall of Detroit as inspiration, the Finnish outfit also laments apocalyptic aftermath in a handful of merciless tracks.

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Endzeit

Years of Hunger beckons you into its dying world by way of “Inception,” gathering drum rolls and impending, threatening guitar-work. The conditions are then right for the coming compositions, and “Hunger” gets to brewing the perfect black metal storm: Thorny guitar riffs, blast beats and crackly vocals that shout from the front lines; deep in the core of “Hunger,” percussion also slithers in unpredictable directions, shedding among a littered landscape. Up next, “Godless” unleashes sharp tones to climb and descend within the chaotic riffs.

Those fond of melodic atmospheres, will find that the following tune does the trick. Overflowing with foul, hymnal-like phrases,”Life?” still manages to secure articulated vocals, but on Years of Hunger, everything wickedly rings with specificity.

Behind the menacing veils of each track on Years of Hunger, unique personalities peer out and set out to stir up a wrath of their own. And songs making the most dynamic impressions are “Hunger”‘s destructive sounds and the tuneful venom that’s spit out of “Life?”; Endzeit also threw in a cover of Dark Funeral’s “The Dawn No More Rises”—not that it would take anything else to be sold on this EP. For the cravings for unfiltered, uncompromising black metal, it doesn’t get much better than the offerings of Years of Hunger.

“Hunger”/YouTube

King of Asgard – Karg

King of Asgard can be counted on to challenge the view of Viking metal. From the way Fi’mbulvintr (2010) melodiously chimes to the blackened folk passages of …to North (2012), you can bet the Swedes usher in versatile metal styles and on their third full-length, too. Translating to “barren,” Karg clings to a darkened bleakness and reminds listeners why KoA sound so unique in the first place.

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Karg/Metal-archives

“The Runes of Hel” is the starting number, but it’s already been released as a music video to show what the album is made of: Composed gutturals, dark guitar riffs and percussion that lurks from deep in the tracks. The following song reinforces these moves; chock full of tremolo-picking, “The Trickster” unloads an understated percussive stomp and a few hollow chants every now and then. And KoA keep the creativity circulating in the approaching tracks.

When “Omma” arrives, it goes from solemn piano strokes to low chants to feverish blast beats before shrinking back in a low pulsed, shaded place. A ways down the record, “Huldran” throws a sharper, black metal edginess throughout, while “Rising” resorts to choppy means to tie in its phrases. A bonus track version of the album ends with a cover of “Total Destruction,” a win for Bathory devotees.

When KoA take different samples from the scope of extreme metal, it’d be dangerous to only force them into the Viking metal bracket, and Karg is no exception.

KoA’s trademark blackened chord progressions stack up around the album’s melodic atmosphere, but you can’t get through this without calling out certain tunes. Bass-prominent tracks, “The Heritage Throne” and “Remnant of the Past” help Karg feel more weighted and contemplative than previous efforts. Even a touch of folk can be detected in the infectious riffs of “The Trickster,” making Karg tasteful enough to appeal to many audiences. Perhaps the most valuable result of Karg is it proving KoA’s style can be counted on for the long haul.

“The Runes Of Hel”/YouTube

Azooma – A Hymn of the Vicious Monster EP

A Hymn of the Vicious Monster

A Hymn of the Vicious Monster  EP. Image: Bandcamp

Azooma are exporting death metal from Iran, and the act’s A Hymn of the Vicious Monster EP is representative of their wicked skills. Split into chapters, the EP delivers muffled gutturals that sit nicely within the pulverizing guitar riffs and rambunctious passages.

This is straightforward death metal, indulging only in the fundamentals that built extreme metal’s most prized possession into what it is today. At the same time, Azooma attack from several rhythmic directions that keep ears free of monotony. They even throw in some flavorful singing, give praise to the rich-sounding bass and offer a taste of a folksy feel. The bottom line is: This is substance. This is durable, polished death metal.

 

Demonic Resurrection – The Demon King

The death/black/symphonic metal style-stretchers, Demonic Resurrection, are back with a full-length, The Demon King. The Mumbai act has been giving a voice to their homeland’s metal scene since the early 2000s, but this effort turns attention toward perilous content that has reached many for ages; lyrically, apocalyptic overtones as well as Hindu myths of awakening demons push the album forward. The Demon King is also cunningly propelled by a group of symphonic flavors, sealed in a colossal intensity you can’t help but surrender to.

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The Demon King. Image: Metal-archives

Opening the album is “The Assassination”; it’s a place where blast beats clash with towering orchestral vibes. (This is also where fragrant melodies give balance, an approach that reappears on the album.) Even though sharp gutturals pierce the dawning of “Facing the Faceless,” it later mirrors “The Promise of Never” in stirring up airy instrumentation. “The Promise of Never” also nabs some vocal harmonies, but the severity is upped a notch once The Demon King‘s second half kicks in.

“Death, Desolation and Despair” whips up a more vicious atmosphere, made menacing by intense drumming and vinegary tones. Trotting behind, “The Demon King” musters up chaotic vocals and weaves some dissonance underneath cold blast beats.

“Even Gods Do Fall” drops off diverse elements that are gathered by keyboard, clean vocals (and grooving percussion fights its way to the surface, too.) “The End Paradox” gives off the impression that bits of wickedness wait to be fizzled out and finished, and much of The Demon King is like that. Busy, creative sounds fluctuate throughout tried-and-true extreme metal tricks, but a strong number of memorable moments fail to wriggle out of the madness. Still, enough is employed to keep this album adrift.

Monstrous, adamant and pulverizing, The Demon King struts along, and likable musical ideas surely are in rotation. A closer look at “The Assassination” shows a velvety guitar solo, and “The Promise of Never” feels confident enough to navigate through even the toughest of perils. With the remaining songs, The Demon King is one sturdy one to play and a broad musical match for apocalyptic material.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

8 Underrated Guitar Riffs in Heavy Metal

They’re outstanding. They’re overlooked. They’re needing you to lend an ear. Here’s to eight underrated guitar riffs in heavy metal:

1. “Where the Slime Live” – Morbid Angel

Sure you may not want to even think about Morbid Angel after that industrial stint. Sure Domination may not be as widely celebrated as Altars of Madness, but you can’t deny that the sticky, grimy tones gurgling in “Where the Slime Live” are unforgettably awesome.

2. “Havenless” – Enslaved

“Havenless” is arguably the most popular song from Enslaved’s versatile catalog, and it’s a cinch to figure out why. Just listen to that storming riff, complemented by those poisonous vocals.

3. “Dethroned Emperor” – Celtic Frost

A flea could be blasting Celtic Frost from its teeny, tiny headphones, and you’d be able to identify the band. It’s all thanks to the groundbreaking riffs that were incorporated.

A bunch of Celtic Frost’s songs could’ve made this cut, but “Dethroned Emperor” from Morbid Tales is noted because of how well that bitter, no nonsense guitar-playing locks in with the drumming.

4. “A Dangerous Meeting” – Mercyful Fate

Mercyful Fate’s signature ghastly atmosphere is laden with a catchy guitar riff on “A Dangerous Meeting,” giving and taking with abrupt solos. It has a way of easing that creepy realm into your reality.

5. “Rumors of War” – High On Fire

Within a few moments of “Rumors of War,” the snarling riff declares that it’s about to go down. Add that riff to the violent drumming and raspy vocals, and the song suddenly leaves you in a frenzy.

6. “Caravans to Ur” – Melechesh

I know. I know. How can anything top the fierceness of Melechesh’s “Rebirth of Nemesis,” right? Even though the instrumental “Caravans to Ur” may parade less energy, the song still chimes with Middle Eastern feel and invites you to journey with it.

7. “Henchmen Ride” – Testament

You can always count on Chuck Billy to sing you through just about any hardship; when topped with busy, melodious, vicious guitar-work, “Henchmen Ride” is fit for venting.

8. “Ólavur Riddararós” – Týr

This song’s main riff is the epitome of Týr’s progressive side. With complex rhythms and dancing notes, it leaves a nearly indescribable impression.