What on earth happened in 1634? A quick look-up on Wikipedia says that a lot of things happened, but nothing which makes me go 'WOW!' The most interesting thing apart from a couple of the usual silly wars mankind has a penchant for is the burning of a French priest who was accused of sorcery. Heavy stuff.
Nevermind my fruitless attempt of finding a historical connection and let's instead focus on this re-release by the Dutch band Ortega. It's a special release and it certainly does deserve a re-release! 100 copies released in 2010 doesn't at all sound like a sufficient exposure of this excellent album.
Ortega has a unique approach to a genre which so many bands, Neurosis included, make insufferable in my view. '1634' is a nice and rounded release with lots of atmosphere. It's sludge with a doomy edge and a big focus on instrumentality rather than vocals. It's in many ways simple music, but at the same time full of emotion and passion.
Where many sludge bands turn their music into an effort to make noise and shout as much as possible, the fine balance between challenging the ears and patience of the listeners and creating plainly beautiful music is struck nicely. Take a song like The Siren; here you should think My Dying Bride with violin and all. Pure beauty and then a bit of a rough statement too towards the end. It's diverse, it's well-played, it has atmosphere, in short; it's a very, very good album.
Admitted, it took me a couple of spins to get into this, but if you allow yourself the patience, this is one that can really grow on you. Try it!