Non Est Deus – Impious Review

It’s fair to say that excitement was running high when I got the promo for Non Est Deus’ third full-length, Impious. Not, I admit, because I was actually familiar with the first two LPs—this has since been rectified—but because of the German man behind Non Est Deus known as Noise. Why? Well, Noise is also the man behind Kanonenfieber, which produced my 2021 AOTY in Menschenmühle. That record’s magnificent melodic, brutal, death-tinted atmospheric black metal record led me to also discover Leiþa1, another very good black metal product from Noise. At times, I have wondered why one man needs three different projects under which to release his output. In the case of Noise, at least, it does make sense. Although there are sonic similarities between Non Est Deus, Kanonenfieber and Leiþa, there are also stark differences and each has its own clear identity in terms of message too. Where Kanonenfieber focuses on the horrors of the Great War but without glorification or gory embellishment, and Leiþa is a more inward-looking reflection on hopelessness, Non Est Deus is something else.

Entirely unsurprisingly, given its name, Non Est Deusraison d’être is to rail against organized religion in all forms. More finessed than its predecessors, 2018’s The Last Supper and the following year’s bluntly-titled There is No God, Non Est Deus’ latest outing is no less vitriolic. Impious’ raging rhythms are half blackened fury, half melodic nuance. Churning, vicious tremolos, reminiscent of Abigail Williams, dominate the likes of “Save us” and “Fuck your God.” These are paired with a slower, more deliberate sound on tracks such as “Hexenwahn” and the excellent “Christraping Polka.” Dabbling in the delicate only occasionally, Impious pulls few punches musically and none thematically, whatever happens tempo-wise. The cascading, plaintive riff of “Celebrate the Self Destruct” is a particular highlight, as Noise’s rasping shriek lashes out in savage anguish.

Closer in musical tone to Kanonenfieber than Leiþa, Non Est Deus manages to imbue Impious with a flow that carries the record along, making it feel shorter and sharper than its already pithy 39 minutes. Every time it finished, I was slightly surprised to find it was over, and typically, I would just press play again. As the blackened tempest rages across much of the record, it’s tempered and modulated with skill, meaning that the harsher sections feel energized and impactful, while down-tempo passages—like the one that surfaces two-thirds of the way through “Burn it Down”—gain a sense of gloomy import that is more than just a respite from the storm. Album closer “The Ascension” combines all the best things that Non Est Deus does across the rest of the record to go out on a spectacular high.

As with Kanonenfieber and Leiþa, everything here is written and performed by Noise. He also produces it all and, once more, does an outstanding job. The guitar tone has a sorrowful, almost crystalline edge, while the bass is meaty and the pounding drums sound excellent. I am sorry to say, however, that there is a problem with Impious. It’s something I have studiously avoided mentioning until now and it is this: Spoken. Words. Sections. Across the album, from opener “Save Us” through to the end of “The Ascension,” there are a selection of spoken word sections, delivered in heavily-accented English, and obviously supposed to advance the antitheism at the heart of Non Est Deus. Unfortunately, these are, for the most part, terribly clichéd and border on caricature in places. This is the case whether it’s the relatively short addition near the end of “Save Us” or the slightly longer excursion late on in “Hexenwahn.” The slightly awkward sound of someone, I assume, self-flagellating at the start of “Flagellation” does not improve things.

On each listen—and I must be past 20 now—the spoken word additions are never anything less than jarring and slightly pull me out of the flow Non Est Deus worked so hard to generate. While the proclamations definitely do not ruin my enjoyment of Impious, they are an annoying flaw that runs throughout the album. This is a shame because, musically, Impious, is excellent. Well-written, tightly performed and expertly produced, this is pretty much the only fault I could find, even if the message, although one I am personally on board with, did not hit quite as hard as the misery-drenched tones of Kanonenfieber.

Rating: 3.5/5.0
DR: 11 | Format Reviewed: 320 kbps mp3
Label: Noisebringer Records
Websites: |
Releases Worldwide: March 4th, 2022

Show 1 footnote

  1. Pronounced ‘Leitha’.
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