ORDO ROSARIUS EQUILIBRIO: Nihilist Notes (And The Perpetual Quest 4 Meaning In Nothing)
Release year: 2022
Label: Out Of Line Music
As the EP La Fleur Du Mal (reviewed here) portended, the new Ordo Rosarius Equilibrio album sees the Swedish act take several steps back, towards an expression reminiscent of some of their earlier albums.
Ordo Rosarius Equilibrio (henceforth ORE) have during their long career, stretching back almost 30 years by now, traversed a wide spectrum of genres: from the almost dark ambient early albums as Ordo Equilibrio to a more martial, militant sound with the first albums after the name revision, to the nihilistic-erotic neofolk-pop of their newest albums. The anchor in all this has been Tomas Petterson’s vocal delivery and lyrical imagery of cruel nihilism and crueller erotica, his visions of apocalypse and naked writhing bodies.
So, how far back in history does Nihilist Notes cast its eyes? To somewhere around the time of Cocktails Carnage Crucifixion and Pornography (2003), perhaps. The sound is far more martial and orchestral than on the last few albums, eschewing the decadent nihilist pop for belligerent percussion and apocalyptic bombast. This isn’t so much seductive or subversive as it is oratory, painting bleak visions of black skies over Europe.
With dominant percussion, blasting horns and dramatic orchestration, Nihilist Notes rises to become a soundtrack to both a global and a personal apocalypse. Some tracks proclaim cataclysmic events for all, whilst others portray deeply personal armageddons, through which ORE lead the listener to the place of gods, all vacated now. The all-pervasive nihilism of ORE seems a bit bleaker, a bit more prominent, a bit more disillusioned here than on the last few albums. Where before there was a sense of erotic mischief, subversion and perversion of ideals, on Nihilist Notes it comes across as almost embittered at times.
Almost three years since it’s release, I’m still of the opinion that the preceeding album Let’s Play (reviewed here) is ORE’s strongest. Though I still listen to it on an almost weekly basis (it’s part of my long distance running playlist), I have not grown tired of it. But, perhaps, in a sense it was a culmination of one evolution – and it is just as well that ORE deliberately went in another director for the successor.
Nihilist Notes has far less “hit potential” than Let’s Play. Even after around a dozen spins, very few tracks stand out as particularly memorable, and certainly not in the way that you hum them constantly. Not surprising, as the album is less melodic than its predecessor, with the vocals being more akin to the demagogue orations of earlier material than the singing of latter albums.
Of course, only time will tell, but I do not think that Nihilist Notes will ascend to become the equal of Let’s Play. This does not mean that it is a bad album – it is not. In fact, it is quite good. Perhaps with its running time of over 50 minutes, it overstays its welcome a bit, but this notwithstanding, Nihilist Notes is another strong entry in ORE’s discography.
The bleak, nihilist visions of Nihilist Notes are delivered with an impeccable sense of the dramatic. Even though most of the erotic aspects of ORE are downplayed on this album, there remains that vague sense of despondent romanticism, of seeing the beauty in loss of belief and the abandonment of dreams. It is this combination of cruelty and romanticism that again makes the album so enticing.
Especially long-time fans and friends of the earlier material will probably delight in this new album – a succesfull return to a somewhat older sound, without sounding self-servingly “retro”. Though I deem it unlikely that Nihilist Notes will take a place by the side of Let’s Play, it does rise relatively high among ORE’s albums. And is, at any rate, a fine piece of martial, orchestral post-industrial music.
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