July 5, 2013

Nightbringer / Dødsengel - Circumambulations of the Solar Inferno

Written by Zamaan Raza.

Artwork & Layout by Antithesis

This high concept occult black metal split from the ever excellent Daemon Worship Productions features the USA’s Nightbringer and Norway’s Dødsengel. The four tracks follow the sun on four parts of its journey from death, through the underworld, to ascension and finally rebirth. The mystical tone is immediately set by the gloriously unsettling artwork, a pentacle-like sigil surrounded by images of the Egyptian sun god Ra.

Nightbringer’s side is undoubtedly the more challenging: a roiling chaos anchored by an atonal, serpentine, tremolo-picked riff. If you are familiar with their superb 2011 album Hierophany of the Open Grave, you will have some idea of what to expect --- although, thanks to new drummer Menthor (Necrosadist, Lvcifyre, Corpus Christii, Enthroned), this one somehow feels more dense and claustrophobic.

The tracks by Dødsengel are a shade closer to second wave orthodoxy, which is not to say they are short of ideas, by any means. These two songs slowly build momentum, with doom metal mutating into black. The standout track of the split, “Watchtower of the South: Drunk on Innermost Fire” starts as with a crushing riff before morphing into a weightless cosmic pilgrimage in the mould of Darkspace.

Whilst Nightbringer’s contribution is a frenzied, blood-soaked ritual, Dødsengel’s is almost meditative. In keeping with the theme, Nightbringer’s side is a destructive descent; Dødsengel’s is creative, a summoning; The former’s production is diamond-sharp and caustic, the latter’s is murky and subdued. These two starkly contrasting styles are proof that that there is still room for creativity in black metal. A must-buy.

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1 comment:
  1. It's good. I prefer the Dødsengel half, though. For whatever reason I don't find Nightbringer to be all that compelling.