The Scandinavian wilderness influences a host of musicians and the solitary member of NOLTEM is apparently under that same influence as well. Oh wait, hold on. Ah, says here that M. Johnson is actually living in Connecticut right now. Oh well, just substitute the word “Connecticut” for the word “Scandinavia” in the first sentence.
What we have is a three-song demo entitled “Hymn Of The Wood” that reeks – in a good way – of Pagan/Folk Metal. Fortunately, for listeners, NOLTEM are very endearing and have a way of crafting mesmerizing songs. No doubt about it: this material is infectious, catchy and memorable. “Rivers Held In Ice” is a nice introduction to the demo, because it features an acoustic passage sandwiched between heavier, symphonic ones. Also, the vocals are distorted yet not as powerful and upfront as they should be. The melodious lead at the minute mark is a nice touch, though. “Hymn Of The Wood” – the track – sounds similar to AGALLOCH upon inception. At the minute mark of the aforementioned, we get a slew of melody and I can’t extol Johnson’s ears – and subsequent compositions – enough. It’s, in other words, a rewarding instrumental. The demo’s production isn’t the best I’ve ever heard of course, but I’m excited to see what NOLTEM will be able to do with a proper recording studio. “The Final Dawn” begins with a storm soundclip that reminds me of a tactic used by EXTOL on their debut, full-length in “Burial.” However, the riff in “The Final Dawn” is simply trance inducing, which indicates its cohesive nature. Furthermore, the song comes full circle when it ends just as it commenced.
Overall, I was impressed with NOLTEM’s “Hymn Of The Wood,” and am actively anticipating subsequent efforts from the one-man project. If the vocalizations are strengthened, then the band could easily become a formidable opponent in the Pagan/Folk Metal subgenre. (Online May 28, 2005)