Sky Disk

Written by: AP on 16/07/2009 13:54:23

Nebra is a nondescript little town in the federal state of Saxony-Anhalt in Germany, which became the focus of some interest when a small, blue-green bronze disc inlaid with gold symbols surfaced there. The Sky Disk, as it is known, is associatively dated to approximately 1600 B.C. and is thought to be some kind of ancient astronomical instrument as well as an item of religious significance. Nebra is also the name of a Swiss instrumental metal band formed around this concept, and before embarking on the actual review, let me just point out that much deliberation has gone into the release of the band's debut EP, "Sky Disk". Not only do the song titles all allude to the mysticism surrounding the disc, the CD itself is see-through and features a number of star constellations painted in silver ink. Everything about this record's packaging is designed to intrigue.

What of the music then? Truth be told, instrumental music has never really struck a chord with me. Long instrumental passages find their place in progressive and sludge metal but without vocalists, bands like Isis, Neurosis and Wolves In The Throne Room (to name only a few) would lose their focus because the explosive moments into which their build-ups lead would be rendered out of existence, and instead we'd have crescendos with no real climax. Having said that, this "Sky Disk" is infinitely more interesting than the music of, say, Pelican. First and foremost the production mix has been tuned to perfection, giving the disc the sonic image of a nuclear explosion: crushing walls of guitars roar beneath thumping, abrasive drumming reminiscent of Brann Dailor's melodic drumming technique to create a soundscape not unlike Mastodon's - just without the characteristic vocals.

Still, although the lack of vocals isn't as detrimental here as with most instrumental bands, there is a distinct, frustrating absence caused by this lack. When the music is this good, it deserves an equally impressive vocal performance to complete picture, to make things even more interesting. In fact, I suspect that were this a full-length album, the novelty would eventually wear off because there isn't anything in particular to clutch onto in the music. It's easy to acknowledge that the musicianship is top notch, that the songs are extremely well-written, and that the producer has hit a vein of gold with his mix (this record has more punch than anything I've listened to this year) but without vocals it simply doesn't have any lasting value. Nebra's music deserves an esteemed vocalist and it is my sincere hope that they, too, face this inevitable truth and recruit one.


Download: Shoulder of Orion, Andromeda Crash Course, Sailing the Methane Seas

For the fans of: Isis, Mastodon, The Melvins, Torche

Listen: Myspace

Release date 12.06.2009


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