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The Seduction Of Art: Part II.
It’s a shame. Usually, when an artist unleashes a debut that takes the world by storm, the follow up rarely lives up to the expectations that were originally set. There are only a handful of cases whereby the act lives up to the standards that were initially laid down, but it’s unlikely that they would be surpassed. It’s almost predictable to expect high hopes from the masses upon finding out about a follow up. I myself was waiting in anticipation for the new Nyktalgia work, but I forced myself to judge the content of both albums separately. After all, they’re not the same. Be that as it may, I can predict that there will be a number of reviews down rating this particular album because it’s completely disregarded the old sound.
So, ‘Peisithanatos’ is the title for the second Nyktalgia record and it’s here to stay, despite the fact that there is most probably a number of fans of the first record that would like to see this number extinguished from time. As I stated previously, this record is not the same as the first. It’s not especially different in any way, other than the cleaner production used for the album, but it’s different regardless of how minor those changes might be. The main emphasis of the band’s music is still on the guitars, that much is the same. However, due to the difference in production, the guitars sound much cleaner than they did before. On the first record, the guitars were edgy. There is a distinct lack of that on this record. The riffs sound like they’ve been wrapped up in cotton wool for protection. The emphasis is no longer based on raw aggression, but the main riffs, which are all very repetitive, are focused mostly on beauty.
I don’t think this is a bad change at all, but there are those that won’t appreciate the change in direction from cutting edge material to this sound which, to me, is watered down. Take the main riff from the first song, which is also named after the band themselves, ‘Nyktalgia’. It’s coated in beauty. Of course, this doesn’t mean to say that the debut wasn’t constructed by beautiful guitars because it was, just in a very different manner. The atmospherically nature of Nyktalgia was always very important to the band and their intimidating fan base and it still is, so the drastic change, if you can call it that, will not suit everyone. If we look back at the first record, ‘Nyktalgia’, we can see that the lead guitars were on aggressive riffs played at a fast tempo. These laid down some very specific moods, which aren’t recreated on the follow up album.
Due to the production on the first album, the band focused almost all of it’s energy on two areas. The first being on the vocals which depicted the usual black metal emotions such as; anger, depression and pain. The destructive nature of the vocals was appealing. They clearly portrayed the emotive side of Nyktalgia and did it with force. ‘Peisithanatos’ consists of very different vocals. They, like the guitars, sound as if they have been wrapped up in cotton wool for our protection. Although I wouldn’t consider the vocals to be any less important, they are slightly less impressive. I, for one, was a fan of the aggressive stance the vocals took. The melody wasn’t exactly imperative to the debut because the aggression and sheer passion carried the vocals well.
However, ‘Peisithanatos’ seems to want to enhance the melody of the instruments by fusing their sound with the awe inspiring sound of the vocals. At least, that is my interpretation of things. Whether this is achieved or not is up to the individual to decide. Although I do like ‘Peisithanatos’ a lot, it’s hampered by it’s lack of aggression. One element of ‘Peisithanatos’ that reminds me of the previous release is the percussion. This creates a feeling of nostalgia for me because it reminds me of the previous effort by Nyktalgia. Although the clean production gives it a different sound, the job it does and how well it is done is largely the same.
The idea behind ‘Peisithanatos’ seems to be a creation of beauty through diverse black metal. I do believe this is achieved, but still not to the extent of the last album. Although I do stress the individual not to make too many comparisons to the debut, they are unavoidable. I, like many others, considered the debut to be flawless, which is probably why this album doesn’t quite live up to the expectations. However, although ‘Nekrolog’ is seen as the main weak point of the album, it is still pretty damn good by everyday standards. In particular, the bass. I love bass, as an instrument and the sound it creates. I happen to think bass could be one of black metal’s most underrated instrument. It’s a beautiful instrument, with a distinctly low sound and tends to litter music with gorgeous textures, as it does on this album. Whilst the aggression is missing, the album does contain many beautiful soundscape. Top notch black metal.