Generally, USA is not well known for black metal bands – unless you’re one of the ‘kvlt’ brigade that has an archival memory for such a thing. Off the top of my head, four bands that I can think of are Agalloch, Absu, the recently defunct Nachtmystium, and Viking Crown (due to it being a Phil Anselmo project), I could list more, but we’re going off the point. Recently, a follower on Twitter mentioned Nightbringer one night and pointed me in the direction of their Bandcamp profile – and I was hooked straight away.
So far, Nightbringer have had a total of four studio albums and a few split/EP’s. “Ego Dominus Tuus”, is their most current and out now on Season of Mist. While composing this review, I have checked through their previous material which has caught my ear and deserving of more study. However, this album in particular is very striking and has caught my ear the most.
So, what can be expected of Nightbringer? Well, I’m very pleased to report that they’re extremely good. A highly polished release, that definitely does not sound remotely American in any form – in fact sounding like the best parts of all the European black metal bands that we all know and love. The band is of a distinctly satanic theme, screaming the lyrics and playing the music with a brooding pernicious intent. A perfect example is ‘Prayer of Nephal’ which leads into the bombast that is ‘Et Nox Illuminatio Meia…’; dripping in distilled evil, rapid fire drumming, spooky Emperor style pinch harmonics and chilling keyboard/guitar work reminiscent of mid period Hecate Enthroned. ‘Lantern of Eden’s night’ is crammed with extremely anthemic guitar work and sweeping harmonies, that in places reminds me of early Enslaved having a musical threesome with Emperor and Setherial; the tracks really are that astonishing.
‘Things That Are Naught’ is one of the shorter tracks of the album, that immediately has me thinking of Setherial once more – blizzard speed strident guitars show no let up in speed and whizz past the listener in a blur, ending with church organ that slowly becomes more garbled and faded. ‘I Am The Gateway’ starts with squealing chords, and turns into a mash-up between early Dimmu Borgir and Bishop of Hexen. On paper, it may occur to some cynics that it appears to be a jack of all trades and a master of none; but somehow Nightbringer appear to deliver the goods in a beautifully executed manner. The only criticism that I can levy at this album is the size, checking in at just over the 70 minute mark. Personally, I have no problem with this as many black metal albums are massive opuses that demand a good sitting through to process fully. However, in a short attention span world thriving off micro blogging and snippets of easy to digest information – it can be hard to take in. Maybe in places it could have had a couple of tracks shaved off and saved for an EP to make it sweeter, but this is largely a manner of personal preference.
To certain fans of the scene, it could be argued that a sizeable few have become jaded with black metal as a whole. With their latest release, Nightbringer maybe the extra spicy ghost pepper needed for your collection of black metal. Essential listening, and just what the (witch) doctor ordered.