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Nightbringer - Terra Damnata - 75%

Voidhanger2, February 8th, 2018
Written based on this version: 2017, Digital, Season of Mist (Bandcamp)

Alright fellow forest dwellers and gas-masked goat throwers, let’s get into the new one from ‘murican black metal band Nightbringer. I loved their last album, “Ego Dominus Tuus,” so I had preordered “Terra Damnata” and received the digipak shortly after its release. Fuck. I hate digipaks. Drop them once and the CD won’t stay in the tray anymore and you’re fucked. Sigh. Anyways, the enigmatic cover art is fantastic, and its abstract nature is very fitting to the music. So let’s get to that.

That moment when you realize a band’s fifth album is their shortest at “only” 52 minutes long. But holy shit, it’s a bloody productive 52 minutes. There’s no ambient intro here, which normally I would have no problems with, but since two of Nightbringer’s members have created some excellent dark ambient as Temple of Not, it seems like a missed opportunity to really set the tone of the album. But instead they rip right into the frenetic opener “As Wolves Amongst Ruin.”

It’s immediately obvious that Nightbringer have really evolved into their own sound. They have no interest in emulating other bands or worshipping the forefathers of the genre; they purely want to forge their own path. Sure, you could draw parallels to bands like Deathspell Omega, Averse Sefira, or even a distant cousin to “De Mysteriis Dom Sathanas,” but you can’t really pigeonhole them, thanks in no small part to the dizzying leads. Their high-pitched, noodling guitar is out in full force throughout the album weaving intricate, urgent riffs that rarely seem to double back on themselves. The songs are meticulous and unrelenting in their pursuit of occult enlightenment, and sometimes even give off a cosmic vibe, not unlike what you would expect to feel from a Darkspace album. It all makes for a very thick album to wade through, and you certainly won’t catch everything on the first spin.

Nightbringer know how to structure an album though, and the penultimate track “The Lamp of Inverse Light” is a well-placed slower piece that allows the album to breathe a bit from its own claustrophobically overwhelming content. A Julius Evola voiceover that will leave PC warriors twitching is backed by chanting as the plodding drumbeats give a lofty, triumphant riff in the background a solid direction. This respite leads up to the epic closer, “Serpent Sun.” It’s a tense, slow build, only picking up speed in the last minutes before abruptly abandoning you in a sudden void of silence.

And that contrast really hits you like a brick to the face. “Terra Damnata” is incredibly dense but executed so naturally that you don’t fully realize just how much is going on until that precipitous shift to silence forces your awareness of what you just left behind. So where does that leave us? I’m not sure that it tops “Ego Dominus Tuus,” but “Terra Damnata” is no slouch and is exactly where you would want Nightbringer to take their music at this point. They have refined their sound to make it unmistakably their own, and it’s definitely worth your attention.

Written for

Let hell reign on earth - 80%

TheFaceofEddie, August 30th, 2017
Written based on this version: 2017, Digital, Season of Mist (Bandcamp)

Pure chaos and destruction, Terra Damnata is another gem from Season of Mist Underground Activists (checkout my take on Dodecahedron’s little party of chaos of here). Terra Damnata is an abject aural assault through which Nightbringer study death and nothingness. The vocals feel as though they were tortured from a demon and the guitars and drums come together to mimic the sounds of the apocalypse. Within all the chaos this was an exceptionally well structured album, possibly an odd compliment but, the organization of the songs can make all the difference; imagine if Hallowed Be Thy Name was an afterthought tossed in the middle of Number of the Beast. Each track flows into the next and the soundscape of one compliments the next. An album to be taken as an album, Nightbringer are terrifying and have produced a hellish piece of art with Terra Damnata.

Nightbringer waste no time opening the gates of hell – no atmospheric intro track, no soft opening – just straight into torment and strife with As Wolves Amongst Ruins. The vocals and instruments begin their assault with the opening beat of the track, layers of music exist from the hammering drums to the skittering screech of guitars to the spoken scream of vocals. Misrule is ominous and promising, easing into existence a switch is flipped and everything accelerates to tech death speed with double kick and sweeping trems. The note runs are atonal and pure torture, conjuring images of being pursued in a horrifying endless maze. The longest track on the album, Let Silence be His Sacred Name, is a massive composition. Unlike Anomie from Violet Cold, which was a composition of minimalism and softness, Let Silence be His Sacred name is brooding and massive. It opens with keys which quickly explode into the expected harshness but, underneath everything, a single flute trills at moments. This sudden introduction of sound catches the ear and adds an unexpected element of beauty into a landscape of pure horror. What hit me strongest this far into the album was how natural the vocals feel. Nothing is strained; it is like the three-headed monster that is Naas Alcameth, Ophis, and ar-Ra’d al-Iblis were born to produce the sounds of hell. The level of extreme is brought down on Inheritor of a Dying World but, each note continues to war against the next. Less oppressive the drums take full command as the nearly spoken vocals deliver a trieste on nothingness. “Inherit a world of dust / there is no solace / no earth-born respite / for those who bear the Serpent’s mark / no companion for your flitting doom”. Continuing with the more open and restrained feeling, Lamp of Inverse Light has a massive atmosphere and the vocals drift up from a deep chasm. The drums take a commanding lead on the track as the guitars are held back. Absolutely crushing, Serpent Sun rises from the atmosphere of the previous two tracks and everything feels bigger as the album returns to the destruction of its opening. The drums continue in their command but now share centre stage with the screaming guitars and demonic vocals to close the album.

The Coloradan occultists deliver again with Terra Damnata. Death and chaos reign as the gates of hell are ripped wide to allow demons to walk the earth. Put this in your earholes and stare at that gorgeous artwork, gaddamnt!

- originally written for Two Posers & A False