By Jonathan Smith
Hailing from West Virginia, Nechochwen is both an individual (Aaron Carey) and a musical project that creates music centered around the local aboriginal history. To classify Nechochwen’s sound as belonging to any one sub-genre is difficult, particularly given that Carey’s focus changes with each release. As my first exposure to Nechochwen, it has become clear to me that Azimuths to the Otherworld is an album that demands to be taken in from start to finish. It asks the listener to engage with its many atmospheric layers as they appear. While for simplicity’s sake the album could be classified in its entirety as folk metal, listeners are immersed in a variety of instrumental interludes and lengthy songs that vary from the completely acoustic with clean vocals to the pounding drums, buzzing guitars, and shrieked and growled vocals of blackened metal. The trick with Nechochwen’s latest effort is that the sound can and will change drastically in the middle of songs (making any attempt at distinguishing between the “softer” and “harder” tracks more or less useless). A perfect example of this is “Red Ocher” — its urgent acoustic riffs explode into sharp growls and blast beats with no warning towards the end of the song. With a total of fourteen tracks, Azimuths to the Otherworld is an album that sticks around and ensures that its weight and spirit aren’t easily ignored. With his emphasis on different subject matter and with some new takes on blackened metal and neo-folk tropes, Nechochwen’s latest effort is well worth multiple listens.