Named after an Alaskan volcano (I looked it up!), NOVARUPTA are that rare beast: a post-metal project worthy of the genre tag. "Marine Snow" builds on the enigmatic, genre-blurring splurge of last year's "Disillusioned Fire", with another flurry of intriguing and impactful vocal cameos from an assortment of underground luminaries. But it's founder and mastermind Alex Stjernfeldt's unique approach to slow-paced riffing and atmospheric textures that sets this apart from the overall post-everything population.
Opener "Broken Blue Cascades" (featuring A STORM OF LIGHT's Josh Graham) fades in with unnerving grace, before ebb and flowing around a core of industrial dub and hazy, post-rock churn. "Every Shade of Water" is a more straightforward affair, with Lea Amling (of Swedish stoner rockers BESVÄRJELSEN) breathing fire in a finessed, soulful sweet spot and amid a stately storm of clanging, post-punk melancholy. "Trieste" features ex-GHOST guitarist Martin Persner delivering a beautifully understated vocal, rich with mystical fervor, over the album's darkest riffing and most cavernous atmospherics, the persistent bleep of a submarine sonar anchoring it all to the mortal realm. In contrast, "No Constellation" is by turns sparse and reflective and grim and grotesque, with INTER ARMA's Mike Paparo belching hellish mantras from the depths of his gut. The song's final, rapacious crescendo is genuinely startling, as NOVARUPTA throw off the shackles of subtlety and revel in the disorientating black noise of the abyss.
It's the closing "11°22.4'N 142°35.5'E" that marks a very obvious peak in both this album's flow and the NOVARUPTA sound overall. Rooted in the slow-motion gait of conventional post-metal, but with a sense of spatial vastness and the underlying throb of the post-industrial avant-garde, it would be a remarkable piece of music without GREENLEAF frontman Arvid Hällagård's visceral but bewitching vocal, which swirls around at the heart of the squall, shrouded in woozy harmonies and tar-thick reverb. It winds to a bittersweet and fragile conclusion, and all that remains is the sound of waves crashing on some frozen shore. It's a stunning conclusion to a laudably idiosyncratic detour from the usual post-metal path. NOVRUPTA are making fascinating, emotionally potent music here. Long may it continue.