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Agony and hopelessness perfected - 95%

Jophelerx, April 29th, 2014

Depressive/suicidal black metal (DSBM) was certainly nothing new in 2004 when Nyktalgia released their debut album, but I'd consider Nyktalgia to be groundbreaking nonetheless. Everything present here has been done before in some form or fashion, but never in quite this combination, and never with such overwhelming success. DSBM is notorious for being very repetitive and with very annoying vocals; I myself cannot disagree that this is often the case. In fact, the album in question is quite repetitive, and some might find the vocals very annoying; but I don't, and I would say that the repetition merely adds to my enjoyment of the music here.

The main thing that puts this album above most of its competitors is that it's energetic and flows well. Many DSBM albums are just loops of a slow, dull melody with no real attempt at a quality transition. Nyktalgia is so much more than that; the riffs are powerful and evocative, even catchy at times, and there's enough variation in them that even with song lengths averaging over ten minutes, the songs never get boring. There also aren't any bullshit spoken word passages or whiny attempts at screams during which the instruments stop playing, like in some other albums I've heard; everything's going at full blast all the time. That doesn't mean that it's fast-paced all the time, but all the energy and passion in the music is constant.

Vocalist Skjeld is a pleasure to listen to above such despondent yet manic riffs. His tortured, primal shrieks complement the atmosphere perfectly, sounding as if he's in such utter and total agony that you can't help but be sucked in by it. As a friend of mine once said, "It sounds like he's on fire." That's not too far from the truth, really; perhaps not a physical fire, but certainly a mental and emotional one that's tearing him apart from the inside. Having felt like this myself many times, his voice actually has a calming effect for me, although for many it might produce a much different reaction. The songs are also varied enough from each other to keep things interesting; while the mood tends to remain pretty consistent, the pacing is pretty varied; the first song is midpaced, the second slower, the third and fourth faster.

Highlights include the entire first song and the intro of the last song (dat bass!). But really, if you've been looking for something that accurately and excellently portrays agony, hopelessness, etc., look no further. This is a masterpiece of the DSBM genre; a cohesive, flowing, passionate work with top-notch songwriting and musicianship, as well as an excellent production that's clear enough to distinguish but raw enough to be powerful. If you're a fan of depressing music, black metal, or DSBM, definitely grab this album, you won't be disappointed.