Navian – Reset – EP Review

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Artist: Navian

Album Title: Reset (EP)

Label: Indie Recordings

Date of Release: 14 August 2020

As you’ll know by now, instrumental music isn’t normally my ‘thing’. I have waxed lyrical about a few releases over the years, most recently, the new effort from Long Distance Calling. But they are a special band. So too are the likes of Earthside and Abnormal Thought Patterns. But the list is short as far as I’m concerned. That said, we might have a new contender to make it onto the list in the form of Navian.

‘Reset’ is the debut EP from this Norwegian trio that have, as far as I’m concerned. Come out of literally nowhere. It is testament to the label, Indie Recordings, that I am willing to give a listen to just about every promo they send my way. And it is because of this, that I have discovered something rather excellent yet again.

It is also testament to the skills and ability of the three musicians within Navian that they have managed to put together this five-track EP in just a month. It sometimes takes me that long to agonise over a review, so to go from having nothing, to 21 minutes of music in just thirty or so days is no mean feat. This is magnified further after a few spins of this release, because you quickly realise that we’re not listening to something basic, sloppy or generic. The music is of an undeniably high quality both in terms of its complexity, but also in the amount of enjoyment it gives me.

At this juncture, I have to admit to knowing little about bands like Animals As Leaders, Plini or Polyphia, so the fact that they are sometimes referred to as ‘the Norwegian Animals As Leaders’ means very little to me. (Mental note: I must now rectify this oversight) What I am able to say is that if you’re partial to progressive rock or metal, fusion, the more accessible end of jazz, art rock, and maybe a fleeting touch of contemporary pop, you’re going to want to hear this.

Navian is comprised of guitarist Martin Stenstad Selen, drummer Ola Dønnem and bassist Christian Alexander Espeseth and, in the accompanying press release, they talk a lot about the pure joy of music, especially when mastering something that they thought to be impossible. And this feeling of ‘joy’ is something that comes through in the music that features on this EP. Each of the five compositions, despite their technicality, offer something that puts a bug smile on your face, be it a bright and breezy tempo, a cheeky embellishment, or a delightful melody. The EP skips along with a freshness and a bounce that is entirely infectious. It has the feel of a summer release, the kind of music you listen to when the sun is brightly shining. And if the sun isn’t shining, it will be after one play though of this EP.

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The fact that these guys met when studying for a bachelor’s degree in contemporary music only serves to underline just how clever and accomplished the trio are too, and helps to explain some of the success behind their music.

It is tough to pick out favourites within the five songs, such is the high and consistent quality across them all. Nevertheless, I have to gravitate to the opening five-minute track, ‘Blank Space’, as it encompasses a little bit of everything that serves Navian so well. It kicks off in confrontational style with a big bold riff and urgent drumming, before settling down to allow the bass to come more to the fore within what I can only describe as a beautiful soundscape, almost ethereal and whimsical in tone, led by a really inviting melody, enhanced by some arresting guitar notes. A sense of the epic is conveyed whilst the song also manages to come across as playful and almost teasing. But the sumptuous melodies enhanced by well-placed keys, are the biggest joy as the song flits from delicate and dreamy to brash and raucous in the blink of an eye. The amount of musical ground that’s covered over the course of 306 seconds is incredibly impressive. And as the song dies away, I never once felt short-changed over a lack of vocals.

The same is true of the remaining four songs. They manage to tell their story and convey much without the need for anything as vulgar as words; the music does all the talking and rightly so. ‘Schoolyard’ is arguably the spriteliest of the songs, albeit with a darker edge towards the end, whilst ‘Shiba’ is graced by some delicious melodic sensibility, pushing it close to the opener in terms of personal favourites.

In short, I can’t get enough of this release. I play it back to back very often and it has yet to disappoint or bore me. In fact, the more I listen, the more I uncover and the more the subtleties emerge. But it is ultimately the apparent accessibility that is so impressive and has me utterly hooked. Apparently there is a full-length album in creation with an early 2021 release being mooted. That’s music to my ears and I can’t wait.

The Score of Much Metal: 90%

Check out my reviews from 2020 right here:

Selenseas – The Outer Limits
Quantum – The Next Breath Of Air
Ensiferum – Thalassic
Long Distance Calling – How Do We Want To Live?
Airbag – A Day At The Beach
Re-Armed – Ignis Aeternum
Atavist – III: Absolution
Frost* – Others EP
Darker Half – If You Only Knew
Atavistia – The Winter Way
Astralborne – Eternity’s End
Centinex – Death In Pieces
Haken – Virus
Pile Of Priests – Pile Of Priests
Sorcerer – Lamenting Of The Innocent
Lesoir – Mosaic
Temnein – Tales: Of Humanity And Greed
Caligula’s Horse – Rise Radiant
…And Oceans – Cosmic World Mother
Vader – Solitude In Madness
Shrapnel – Palace For The Insane
Sinisthra – The Broad And Beaten Way
Paradise Lost – Obsidian
Naglfar – Cerecloth
Forgotten Tomb – Nihilistic Estrangement
Winterfylleth – The Reckoning Dawn
Firewind – Firewind
An Autumn For Crippled Children – All Fell Silent, Everything Went Quiet
Havok – V
Helfró – Helfró
Victoria K – Essentia
Cryptex – Once Upon A Time
Thy Despair – The Song Of Desolation
Cirith Ungol – Forever Black
Igorrr – Spirituality and Distortion
Nightwish – Human. II: Nature.
Katatonia – City Burials
Wolfheart – Wolves Of Karelia
Asenblut – Die Wilde Jagd
Nicumo – Inertia
The Black Dahlia Murder – Verminous
Omega Infinity – Solar Spectre
Symbolik – Emergence
Pure Reason Revolution – Eupnea
Irist – Order Of The Mind
Testament – Titans Of Creation
Ilium – Carcinogeist
Dawn Of Ouroboros – The Art Of Morphology
Torchia – The Coven
Novena – Eleventh Hour
Ashes Of Life – Seasons Within
Dynazty – The Dark Delight
Sutrah – Aletheia EP
Welicoruss – Siberian Heathen Horde
Myth Of I – Myth Of I
My Dying Bride – The Ghost Of Orion
Infirmum – Walls Of Sorrow
Inno – The Rain Under
Kvaen – The Funeral Pyre
Mindtech – Omnipresence
Dark Fortress – Spectres From The Old World
The Oneira – Injection
Night Crowned – Impius Viam
Dead Serenity – Beginnings EP
The Night Flight Orchestra – Aeromantic
Deadrisen – Deadrisen
Blaze Of Perdition – The Harrowing Of Hearts
Godsticks – Inescapable
Isle Of The Cross – Excelsis
Demons & Wizards – III
Vredehammer – Viperous
H.E.A.T – H.E.A.T II
Psychotic Waltz – The God-Shaped Void
Into The Open – Destination Eternity
Lunarsea – Earthling/Terrestre
Pure Wrath – The Forlorn Soldier EP
Sylosis – Cycle of Suffering
Sepultura – Quadra
Dyscordia – Delete / Rewrite
Godthrymm – Reflections
On Thorns I Lay – Threnos
God Dethroned – Illuminati
Fragment Soul – A Soul Inhabiting Two Bodies
Mariana Semkina – Sleepwalking
Mini Album Reviews: Moloken, The Driftwood Sign & Midnight
Serenity – The Last Knight
Ihsahn – Telemark EP
Temperance – Viridian
Blasphemer – The Sixth Hour
Deathwhite – Grave Image
Marko Hietala – Pyre Of The Black Heart
SWMM – Trail Of The Fallen
Into Pandemonium – Darkest Rise EP
Bonded – Rest In Violence
Serious Black – Suite 226
Darktribe – Voici L’Homme
Brothers Of Metal – Emblas Saga
A Life Divided – Echoes
Thoughts Factory – Elements

You can also check out my other reviews from previous years right here:

2019 reviews
2018 reviews
2017 reviews
2016 reviews
2015 reviews

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