NAUT – Semele (Shattered Spire, 2019)
The Englishmen NAUT embark on an unbridled and supernatural race on the back of their new EP, Semele.
It always happens. You discover a new group that you love with all its freshness and originality, you devour it with anxiety, but then come the fears… What will their next work be like? I can’t possibly like it as much as this one! And to a certain extent it’s a self-fulfilling prophecy, because that next work can’t and shouldn’t be the same. So you have to give up your restlessness and go on with the journey the band is proposing to you.
In the case of NAUT, there can be no greater degree of coincidence between the wishes of the listener and the theme of their second EP, Semele. These Bristol rockers debuted with an energetic and exciting EP (Raise the Lights) that exuded attitude and good taste. With Semele they turn to Greek mythology and European folklore to symbolise a break with a situation of stagnation, which derives in a wild and unbound liberation… A new and brief musical journey (just three tracks) that takes the listener along the path of Raise the Lights, nuanced with some novelties in terms of instruments and musicians.
The track Semele opens the homonymous EP with a composition led by Jack Welch‘s rhythm guitar and Laura Taylor‘s keyboards, whose presence is more notorious than the previous EP; in addition the band has counted for the occasion with the solo of guitarist Henrik Palm (who was part of the satanic-papist band Ghost). On a narrative level, the song makes use of Semele (the princess incinerated by the divine presence of her lover Zeus) to tell a story in which the protagonist finds himself trapped in a dead end, with no apparent hope; although in the end his will is uninhibited and he can escape the loop of indecision.
Semele‘s narrative ending gives way to Spirit Horses, a wonderful song that takes up the mental prison from which the singer-narrator (Gavin Keirran) is freed to join a wild hunt on the back of ghostly horses. The symbiosis between the theme and its musical representation is highly successful (special mention for Ryan Wakelam‘s drums, which replace Kenny Selway); notes and lyrics feed back in a way that makes it easy to imagine the feeling of primordial and nocturnal freedom.
Cymbals crash, beat the drums!
The firmament is undone!
So carry me away on spirit horses
Like a beaded necklace, Reprise follows the same thread and finishes off this story in three parts with a more cryptic story and calmer musical dynamics. Its guitar riffs are somewhat reminiscent of FOTN‘s Dawnrazor and The Nephilim.
In general, Semele‘s sound is based as much on the classic bands of gothic rock as on hard and seventies rock (listen to the guitar ending solo in Spirit Horses). This latter influence is more evident than in Raise the Lights, and NAUT manages to conjugate them in a natural way, something that is in their DNA and they have never hidden. The band has commented on YouTube that they hope to release new tracks in the spring of 2020, although it remains to be confirmed if it will be in the form of an EP or if they will decide to release their first LP.
Semele has been released by Shattered Spire in cassette and CD formats. The first of these can be seen for its quality and care in the Bandcamp profile of NAUT, although with the CD format is not clear and I personally had some doubts about it. With the design of Raise the Lights in mind (a simple digipack, without booklet but with a nice modernist design), I took a risk for the CD version and I can confirm that it maintains the quality (although it still has no booklet).