Coph Nia – Shape Shifter

After the debut “That which remains” and the mini cd ‘Holy War”, “Shape Shifter” is the second Coph Nia album. Because the previous two albums showed a great deal of variety in styles, I was curious what to expect of this new release. And it did manage to surprise me. This new album is much more of a unity, and it sounds different again. The music is overall rather slow and tranquil, with a solid dark ambient foundation and subtle symphonic elements. Don’t expect a harsh attack like ‘Holy War’ on this album. At first I was a bit disappointed by that, but after more careful listening I can appreciate the sound of “Shape Shifter. While most tracks are tranquil, they still make a powerful impression.

A striking element of the tracks are the spoken words by Aldenon, with a grave, solemn voice he declaims his libertinian lyrics. Many sins are confessed, without any regrets. The general theme of this album is ‘to break free from the conventions of a society that fetter the free-thinking individual; by means of deviant behavior, by doing the unexpected, by shifting shape.’ I really like the combination of the spoken words and the dark musical sounds. At times I have to think of Blood Axis’ first album a bit.

My favourite song is probably ‘To Fix the Shadow’, which has an especially sacred atmosphere through the church bell and the nicely interweaven Gregorian chants. Also very good is ‘Prime mover’, a cover from the Leather Nun, with a lot of tension. For some reason the voice of Aldenon reminds me of The Young Gods here. Another striking track is ‘Hymn to Pan’, a dark threatening anthem which goes on and on. Further on the album another impressive cover can be found, ‘Stigmata Martyr’, the Bauhaus classic. The last piece ‘Call of the jackal’ is striking because of its rather industrial rhythmic elements.

An original sounding creation, with ambient and classical, tranquil and bombastic elements, a very dark mood and liberating lyrics. A recommended, intense album.

artist: Coph Nia
label: Cold Meat Industry
details: 9 tracks. cmi122 (2003)