Like Catalonia, Basque Country has stated its interest in independence from Spain. I do not know whether Numen is one of those who wows for independence or not but a big attractor in their uniqueness is the Basque language, Euskera.
They could be described as oldschool black metal with folk influences and folks, THIS is how folk influences should be used. With the likes of Moonsorrow and Primordial Numen integrates folk to their sound without unnecessary hobbit-like dibbling and dabbling ’round the tree with beer cogs in hand. Folk is just one of the elements, not constant flute frenzy. Numen should even appeal to Black metal purists as their sound really takes a bow to oldschool black.
The idea of Black metal from Basque country isn’t that far fetched for me. Pretty much my first touch to black metal was Numen. Which still to this date is among my favourite Black metal artists. I found Numen through long-defunct Audiogalaxy in about 2002(?). In Audiogalaxy groups it was normal for people to send tracks to everyone in that group. Numen is one of the many class acts I discovered that way.
Their first EP Haize Sorginduen Intziriak (2000) (Screams of bewitched winds) never went to my regular listening cycle, except Ehitzari Beltza which was an instant favourite. I’m still not sure what it means, or how the hell it is pronounced what really stood out for me was the obscure sounding language. Not even mentioning the sound of a thunderbolt in the end and odd laughing at 3:04 both of which are such a cliche but then were awesome. Still, unlike some of my favourites from that time, the song is still decent and the harsh but beautiful language fits the mood perfectly.
The album that kicked off the Numen fever was their first full length Galdutako Itxaropenaren Eresia (2001) (Chant of the Lost Hope). It is still a strong effort with some really unique instrumentals. My personal favourites are Iheslaria which is both beautiful and brutal at the same time and the overly melodic Ama Lurra.
After Galdutako, Numen set the standard even higher with a good EP …Jarrai Beza Kondairak (2003) and what many think is their best work, full-length Basoaren Semeak (2004). The most interesting piece of …Jarrai is Mari (Su Ta Gar Cover), it embraces the melodic aspects of Numen, being a cover of a heavy metal band. It is also an intriguing piece of history as Su Ta Gar is one of the most known Basque metal bands and also controversial. They’ve been around since the end of 1980s and released multiple albums.
Basoaren Semeak is a thick, haunting but natural sounding record which has obviously been influenced by a lot of Norwegian black metal greats. Its sounds are a huge step up from Galdutako… and the band developed in both song-writing and instrumental proficiency.
Their latest album is a self-titled album from 2007. Its sounds are not as aggressive as Basoaren Semeak and the songs are longer and more complicated. There is a distinctive increase of epic, almost cinematic qualities, like the melancholic brilliance in the finale of Gauaren Irrifarre Izkutua which turns from standard but charmingly crooked black metal to a wonderful mixture of depressive black and clean acoustic guitar.
It is a pity that Numen has not released anything since as their discography is packed with quality. They seem to be still active as they have played gigs now and then.
It is also impressing that I can still spell stuff like Galdutako Itxaropenaren Eresia correctly!
You can find all their releases from bandcamp: http://numenblackmetal.bandcamp.com/
2018 edit, 2007 s/t album is now in Spotify: