It is no secret that the universe, and by extension what lays within it, is the greatest mystery of all time. There are entire sciences devoted to learning about and understanding how specific aspects of the universe work. We have government agencies, both very real and very campfire story-esque in nature, who regularly conduct missions to space in search of what lays beyond our own realm. However, in each of us, the ordinary citizens, is an urge, a yearning to travel the stars and see what exists outside of our rock.
This feeling is made tangible in the debut full-length from Sweden’s newcomers to the progressive/ambient metalcore fold. Drawing influence from equal parts Northlane and Sempiternal-era Bring Me the Horizon, Noija presents us with a skillfully crafted mirroring of their peers. This may sound like a detraction, but fret not, because in Noija’s case, it works very much to their advantage.
Comprised of vocalist Nick Serlstedt, guitarist Ludvig Ottosson, bassist Max Mauritsson, and drummer Daniel Lundgren, Noija boldly follows their peers in Northlane and Fire From the Gods in crafting catchy, uplifting, and mind-bogglingly complex riffage. From the opening moments of “Unknown’ through more somber tracks like “Can’t Slow Down”, Ottosson soars over the mix with a guitar tone very much reminiscent of Via-era Volumes. Along each of the eleven tracks of Colorblind, Ottosson effortlessly grooves and shreds his way through the outer limits of our galaxy. He is especially effective on tracks like “Find the Sound” and “Follow”, showing off both sides of his impressive range, while managing to perfectly create an ethereal atmosphere that is sure to engulf the listener over and over again.
In our dreams, we often dream of flight and travel. For those of us Kingdom Hearts fans, this is akin to wanting to fly a Gummi ship from the Destiny Islands all the way to the World that Never Was and back.We as a species are not content to merely sleep through the days, blissfully unaware of the great beyond. We’re too afraid to know what we can’t comprehend.
But such is not the case for Mauritsson and Lundgren. Working in seraphic synchronization, these two fearless travelers weave, bob, and groove their way to the stars. Where Lundgren is present with impressive footwork and fills, Mauritsson is there to supply a glimmering foundation of thick, crisp bass tone. These two may never stray far away from one another on this record, but with emotional anthems like “Just Hold Your Breath” and passionately precise groove-fests like “Find the Sound”, they don’t need to. The pair is a perfect two-pronged attack, supplying both heft and realism to the emotion displayed throughout Colorblind.
This debut, however, is not without its flaws. While very much a pretty singer, Serlstedt is not particularly engaging as a vocalist. While the rest of the album certainly isn’t unique by any stretch, Serlstedt is especially by-the-numbers. This works to his advantage in songs like “Hold Your Heart”, but on songs like the opener, “Unknown”, he fails to capture any emotion, any excitement, or any umph. Combine that with the very blatant ripoff of the chorus to “Shadow Moses”, but the track as a whole feels very bland and uninspired. While it may have been a good standalone single, it feels very much out of place on this album. Unfortunately, while Serlstedt is a technically skilled singer, his influences are almost too apparent. Don’t misunderstand- I do enjoy his vocal performance on most of these songs, however, this one song is almost bland enough to dull the entire project. I do, however, also believe that if Serlstedt were to find his own niche in the vocal department, he could very much be an engaging and captivating frontman.
It’s hard to call this album flawless or even great, but it’s also hard for me to not recommend it to fans of this style of metalcore. While Serlstedt’s vocals can be boring at times, when he comes through with an exciting delivery, it’s truly phenomenal. Thankfully, he’s got an exceptional band to lay him the groundwork. All in all, while this may not be an ideal debut, it’s still worth listening to , and it may just grow on you.
FFO: Bring Me the Horizon, Fire From the Gods, Northlane