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... And I always thought Jesus was a junkie - 67%

Sean16, July 16th, 2009

I seriously wonder what these guys were high on while recording this as, come on, they HAD to be high on something.

Indeed. Music such as the one featured on this Nightly Gale full-length is usually hard to describe. Avant-garde? You’d put pretty much everything sounding even remotely strange under this old worn-out hat. All the more the present album is all BUT senseless – it has nothing to do with your so-called experimental work devoid of any coherence or structure and only consisting in a succession of random chords. Construction-wise the songs may even seem fairly standard as, while there are no real verses or choruses, recurring themes or sentences can still be heard from times to times, and the tempo and key remain consistent all throughout the five tracks. The sound on the other hand is weird, sometimes veryweird as when the occasional twisted, agonizing saxophone enters, but the production nonetheless remains crystal-clear, not sludgy by any mean. And if there’s still a bit of occasional distortion, especially on the first track, it’s far from being the norm. The vocals can’t be described by any other word as sick, constantly alternating between black-metal-fashion tortured shrieks and some soothing, seemingly drugged clean singing. At least it isn’t the same guy doing both, or he would have been a hell of a schizo.

Keyboards, as may be guessed, stand on the front of the scene. There’s something of a Summoning flavour in this band, though they don’t exactly play the same kind of metal. Not because Nightly Gale are using programmed drums, in fact, unlike in Summoning one can barely guess the drums here are programmed, but more in the sense keyboards are often given the lead while guitars are confined to a minor, backing part. This could bug the doom lover a bit. Because, in lack of a proper genre to label it, this act is playing doom, there’s no need to argue about it – but doom without prominent guitars? Doom without riffs? Of course there are a few solos, but even those aren’t particularly mixed up, and don’t appear to be of a stunning technique anyway. Doom metal for the open-minded, so they say. How much do you want to be open-minded?

To put it bluntly, all this bores me a bit. ...And Jesus Wept leaves the unpleasant impression the full potential still has to be reached. The unique mood, the psychedelic delirium, the sumptuous keyboard parts can’t totally outshine the obvious fillers – and there are several. The most obvious being the second half of the last track, meaning, not less than five minutes consisting in the repetition of the exact SAME bars. Of course I may understand it’s all about the creation of an incantatory, hypnotizing feeling, but it’s really painful to listen to while in a sober mood. The intro of the second track – obnoxious drumming, stupid chanting, mixed-up electro synths – is also pretty nerve-breaking, even if the shit rapidly goes back on track after barely two minutes have elapsed. The clean vocals are also kind of a concern all over the album, becoming rapidly sleep-inducing. Again, it fits the work’s overall mood well, but if the listener isn’t in turn in the right mood to appreciate it, it’s another point likely to turn him down.

However it has to be put to the band’s credit that these five long tracks DO sound different, and they DO feature memorable bars as well. This wasn’t easy challenge, and the fact the guys manage to fulfill it confirms the talent is present, though probably not sufficiently exploited. And if I Say that You Died is a highly psychedelic moment (as the crazy title seemed to suggest), complete with hazy clean vocals – I tell you again, this guy IS high on something. The opener I’m the Only Way might on the other hand be the most complex track with its lengthy instrumental bridges, further, it probably features some of the most aggressive parts of the whole release, as if the band wanted to strike the listener’s imagination from the very beginning – and indeed it does. Cutting God’s Throat is a highly melodic piece of work and (for this reason?) my personal favourite. The two remaining tracks are less impressive, but this doesn’t mean they’re totally devoid of any quality.

But now, may I apologize if this isn’t really my cup of tea?

Highlights: I’m the Only Way, Cutting God’s Throat