Wednesday, 24 May 2017

ALBUM REVIEW: Nightbringer - "Terra Damnata"

By: Mark Ambrose

Album Type: Full-length
Date Released: 14/04/2017
Label: Season of Mist



Remarkably, with Nightbringer approaching two decades of existence, they’re pulling off some of the best black metal the country has to offer, with a rabid intensity that, for all its darkness, remains inspiring.





“Terra Damnata” CD//DD//LP track listing

1. As Wolves Amongst Ruins
2. Misrule
3. Midnight’s Crown
4. Of the Key and Crossed Bones
5. Let Silence Be His Sacred Name
6. Inheritor of a Dying World
7. The Lamp of Inverse Light
8. Serpent Sun

The Review

The “Intro” track has become a standard of most genre releases. Whether an atmospheric, instrumental piece, a sample of dialogue from some esoteric movie, or a full-fledged song that gradually builds up to the kinetic bombast you expect from a metal record, the “Intro” has become as standard as post-credits sequences in blockbuster movies – and, if we’re honest, as hackneyed.  It speaks to Nightbringer’s nearly two decades of excellence and confidence that “As Wolves Amongst Ruins” burst through my speakers, so intense that I wondered if I had a mislabeled track listing.  This opening barrage is a definitive mission statement from Colorado’s premiere occult-minded black metal wizards: “Stand unbent / Unbroken in storms untamed / And let the winds / Stir your embers to blazing-flames!” The five-piece should have everyone’s attention with this latest full-length record, their third for Season of Mist and fifth overall.

There’s a distinctively European flair to Nightbringer’s dense metal, with touches of synth and organ that never slide into the pomposity of “symphonic metal”.  Rather, the US five-piece eschews the psychedelia and dreampop influences of coastal US standouts, immersing listeners into a hellish nightscape with few moments of relief.  That isn’t to say the album lacks beauty; the intricate guitar work relies on tight tremolo picking, harmonies that glide between sinister and triumphant, and provide perfect high end counterpoint to Norgaath’s churning, essential bass riffs.  Menthor’s drumming, meanwhile, has the ability to turn on a dime, from double-bass mayhem to doom-adjacent, monolithic fills.  The triple vocal attack of ar Ra’d al-Iblis, and guitarists Naas and Ophiis, recalls the demonic lords of Milton’s Hell – Azazel,  Beelzebub, and Satan himself, alternating between black metal shrieks, guttural growling, and infernal preaching.

Each track on “Terra Damnata” shines with instrumental precision and unholy depths worthy of any brave enough to explore.  The mini epic, “Let Silence Be His Sacred Name,” is a true standout – a track so densely packed with harmonies, shifts in timing, and vocal tradeoffs that I hope to hell I get to see Nightbringer pull it off live.  If it approaches the power of the album cut, there may be many more converted to the unholy faith at metal shows across the US soon.  After the frenzy of this 8+ minute track, the rest of the album provides some much-needed space: the dirgey, doom-y “Inheritor of a Dying World” approaches moments of Celtic Frost avant garde madness, and “Lamp of Inverse Light” is an instrumental meditation on several repeating themes over a spoken word sample buried under layers of distortion.  Serpent Sun” balances between the mid-tempo oppression and breakneck double bass drumming that lumbers and ascends before culminating in a sublime death spasm.  Remarkably, with Nightbringer approaching two decades of existence, they’re pulling off some of the best black metal the country has to offer, with a rabid intensity that, for all its darkness, remains inspiring.

“Terra Damnata” is available here





Band info: bandcamp || facebook

1 comment:

TomSyvo said...

awesome album, awesome review!!