The meaning of ‘taiga’ has to do with the green forest lands at the Arctic and Subarctic areas of our dearest Mater Terra. It means coldness, it means nature, it means emptiness and desolation, extent and, at the same time, littleness, emptiness, integrity. I think it’s rather logical that this Russian (Siberian) band did go for that specific moniker.
This duo did surprise me a lot last year with the album Ashen Light. Satanath got me in touch with that debut album, and now Taiga return with their second opus, which got released on Symbol Of Domination Productions, a sub-division of Satanath, once again in co-operation with Metallic Media (for sure it’s not the first time both labels work together).
Gaia (hey, once again a reference to the earthly -or at least the natural side of it- existence) was written, performed and recorded completely by both Nikolai and Andrei, resulting in more than seventy (!) minutes of freezing and somewhat desperate Atmospheric Black Metal. As from the first composition on the album, Ледяная пыль (indeed, everything on this album is written in the guys’ native tongue), the duo shows that Ashen Light wasn’t a one-hit-wonder. It’s a form of Atmospheric DSBM (aka Depressive Suicidal Black Metal), based on long-stretched melodies, mainly empowered by prominent guitar melodies, pretty much in the so-called Shoegaze-vein (Blackgaze, as many call it). These melody lines are supported by a strongly pounding rhythm section (cool bass lines, strong guitar riffing and fabulous drum patterns, sometimes purely supportive, then again crawling out of the mud towards the foreground; though I think it is a drum computer), but pretty striking are the lead vocals: very, very ‘hysterical’, deeply tortured and desolately painful. Besides, there are some whispers, spoken words, grunts and other vocal try-outs too. The main tempo is pretty slow, sometimes even doomy, and especially the few excerpts with acoustic guitars add a modest Post-Rock memory. Taiga surely do not bring something renewing, but there is a certain sense of variety, and that’s necessary because of the average length of the compositions. With pieces like Meртвое море надежд, for example, there’s even a specific epic touch of warlust present!
The earlier efforts of Shining might come to mind, more than coincidentally, though the oldest works of Burzum, Draugar, Forgotten Woods, Nyktalgia, Woods Of Desolation, EgoNoir, Nargaroth and the likes do surely come to mind. The band, however, trespasses the fact to be limitedly compared to these acts alone, for their funereal and natural approach puts an own mark on the result. Yet I need to be honest, and I think Ashen Light was stronger. I think, but once again it isn’t but my personal opinion, that the reason is the sound, which did create a denser and more oppressive atmosphere on the former album. Gaia’s production lacks of that profound grimness. But in any case this album is an ideal soundtrack to enjoy when feeling happily unhappy!