One of the most encouraging trends in metal these days—and in other forms of extreme music—is the rise in visibility, legitimacy, and popular success of the self-released record. Technology is in part responsible, as advances in recording and other software have ripped the ability to create a professional presentation and get it to listeners and potential new fans from the cold and dying hands of industry dinosaurs. At the same time, music fans have become accustomed to consuming music via new media. No one reading this needs a rehearsal of these facts of life in the internet age, but the upshot is that the average fan of metal no longer looks askance at a record that does not bear the imprimatur of a label. To be self-released no longer screams, or even really implies, low quality.
This development is a good thing because it provides us with releases like “Black Horizon”. This record sounds professional—as good as, or better than, some similar releases put out by labels. Songwriting is more important than sonics though, and Nexhymn have done their part in this respect, to disprove any remaining notion that an A&R department is a necessary and proper gatekeeper of what deserves to be recorded and distributed.
The first sound on “Black Horizon” is an air raid siren (on the song ‘Decaying Monument’—music video available on the band’s Myspace page), followed by the sound of gunfire—followed by a blastbeat. It’s a classic metal move, but this reviewer still doesn’t find it too cliché: metal can certainly be music as an assault. The overall tone of this album is comprehensive death metal with wall of sound production. Think OSDM-chugs and contemporary blasts getting along happily together.
Vocalist Holly Wedel deserves particular recognition. We are getting to the point where female death metal performers are no longer a novelty, so it’s for her beastly growls rather than her gender that she is pointed out here. They are a highlight of “Black Horizon.” Deep, solid and sustained, they would be at home on any Scandinavian HM-2 genre exercise; here, they are a neat contrast to the mostly up-tempo rhythms of the band as she holds syllables across bar lines. Her occasional mid-pitched shrieks further showcase her lung power.
This is one of those releases that would be a good sample of today’s death metal for metalheads coming at DM from other styles of metal and curious what it’s about. Its varied drumming, assorted guitar techniques, and length (about 22 minutes) make it a great musical snack for newbies, but its overall quality and punch will please veterans as well.
A band to keep an ear on for sure.