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Chants Coming From The Dark Call Me In - 91%

HeySharpshooter, October 5th, 2011

As caustic and demonic as anything released this, year Hierophany of the Open Grave is an unstoppable mass of swirling black carnage that is immediately haunting and intense. Nightbringer have always flirted with greatness in the past, but it was often a shortage of ideas coupled with songs too long for their own good that doomed solid albums like Death and the Black Work and Apocalypse Sun into the dreaded, "good but not great" category. At most, Nightbringer had been a furious, albeit under-achieving, young act still trying to find its way in the American black metal scene.

Hierophany of the Open Grave leaves no questions about where Nightbringer stand amongst their US peers now: they have arrived as one of the finest and most powerful young acts in black metal today. By taking the classic Norwegian sound and adding the dissonant, technical leads popular with French(and French sounding) Black Metal acts, Nightbringer stand apart from any of the Orthodox black metal acts that are all the rage right now. The guitar work on Hierophany is something to behold: almost completely tremolo picked, they are technical and dissonant, but not without some meat to them. Thankfully, Nightbringer also tone down the blast beats on this album: they will still cut loose hammer through dozens of notes and beats in seconds, but Hierophany shows a new maturity in song writing that was not on previous albums. Ideas and riffs are given enough time to work their black magic and hook listeners in for the long haul. Song lengths remain extended on Hierophany, but now songs are not running out of ideas 3 minutes before the end of the song.

The atmospheric elements of Hierphoany are the strength of this record. "Eater of the Black Led," easily the strongest track on the record, begins with an acoustic interlude before heading into a slow, demonic riff that layers on the evil before things speed up. But they never get too fast, and the fantastic vocals keep the air thick with darkness. To think that this is the same band that released 7 mintues songs on Apocalypse Sun that were entirely driven by blast beats is pretty hard to believe.

Every band has to "grow up" to reach that next level. Nightbringer have done just that with Hierophany of the Open Grave. But not only have Nightbringer grown-up, they have shown wisdom beyond their age with this release. Without a doubt the finest Black Metal release of the year, Hierophany of the Open Grave is the kind of album that transcends its own era and stays with listeners well past its initial listen like all truly great albums do.

Rating: 9.5/10

originally posted at

So Harrowing, And Truly Evil - 76%

GuntherTheUndying, August 25th, 2011

This is a prism of unlight. A ruthless, demonic plunge into the cold arms of death, told by the blackest of scribes and channeled through an unhallowed wavelength that makes most black metal bands shiver in fear. The band is the nocturnal Nightbringer, and the style of execution performed under the guidance of this American medium of death leaves the ghoulish hour of "Hierophany of the Open Grave" to the vultures of black metal's ritualistic sacrifices. What looms from Nightbringer can only be labeled occult black metal; rather, the themes and symbols of dark art are carefully exploited throughout "Hierophany of the Open Grave" within the band's esoteric conjurations of darkness and doom. Musically, Nightbringer is at the very least unique, considering this channeled essence of shade.

Nightbringer's music is hard to describe, but it is certainly captivating in its own right. The group's individualistic take on black metal is simultaneously epic and brooding in its harrowing nature. The opening moments of "Rite of the Slayer Tongue" prove Nightbringer flies way above the expectations of basic black metal, as twisting tremolo riffs and harsh vocals mend into rapid percussion and an explosive sound quality that captures every element of ruin within Nightbringer's soul. One could say the guitar work is basic for black metal, but the way Nightbringer molds traditional qualities into something diabolical and harnessing is simply nictitating and destructive. What it produces just eclipses the label of dark, unusual, and cursing.

But you'll also notice that Nightbringer has established itself as a fundamental demon in the realms of advanced songwriting once more; the record frequently changes tempo from maniacal, frenzied black metal to haunting, bone-chilled sections of bloodless atmospheres, not to mention the use of pianos are prominent throughout "Old Night" and others, which adds an element of vampirism and occult terror in the process. More importantly, "Hierophany of the Open Grave" lasts for over an hour, spreading this slaying ode to death over nine tracks, never shifting color or ideology in the meantime; however, a number of portions drag on without much direction or usefulness, and ultimately become quite forgettable and taxing despite Nightbringer's primordial abilities.

Obviously, Nightbringer is not for everyone. The way the band weaves between strange riffs and ideals makes "Hierophany of the Open Grave" a difficult item to digest, and it is quite the grueling task to truly listen to the album from head to tail without stopping at first, but it becomes increasingly tolerable the more the listener allows the dark arm of Acheron to reach around and give Nightbringer's blessing. So, if you want something perplexing and different, "Hierophany of the Open Grave" might be the way to go, but be forewarned: the grave is open, and looking to be filled.

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