The Loom of Time - NihilreichIt’s time to come clean. While I (and many of my colleagues) have been blithering on in our writings about how 2016 has been a fantastic year for — insert subgenre here — metal, I must admit that this year has been a bit underwhelming for me. Not in terms of the sheer number of quality releases, mind you, but rather in the notable dearth of legitimate surprises. Khemmis, Vektor, and Anaal Nathrakh all released fantastic albums, you say? Gee, never saw that coming! But who’s going to fill my need for symphonic low-fi industrial blackened avant-garde proto-post-modern power metal!? Probably no one, but in a year defined by excellent, long-running acts predictably sticking to their guns, I’ve been craving a few curveballs hurled at the established genres. Australia’s doom/black/death metal hybrid The Loom of Time is one such curveball. After only a year of existence, can they possibly knock it out of the park with their debut LP NihilReich?

Well, not quite, but they come pretty close. The Loom of Time primarily finds their footing in doom, riding mid-paced tempos with a hard rock groove a la Cathedral. The death metal element of NihilReich is fairly subdued, relegated large to the chunky, driving down-tuned rhythm guitar work, but TLoT’s blackened and melodic leanings are what really lend them a unique identity. Plodding doom rhythms can be blown away at any moment by barrages of blastbeats and melodic tremolo runs that smack of Dissection, or can be elevated by soaring lead guitar harmonies that expose their reverence for Iron Maiden. This unpredictability is the beating heart of NihilReich; it comes across as the first steps of a band that excel at collaboration through songwriting, pooling their diverse influences into a formula that’s as deliberate as it is novel.

While NihilReich is a mostly engaging record, it, unfortunately, succumbs to debut album syndrome in regards to songwriting. I challenge you to find a single riff or melody on this record that is returned to even once after the band moves on from it. You won’t find one. This ambitious approach to TLoT’s constructions leaves me conflicted. On one hand, it’s admirable to see a young band totally dwarf Metallica’s riff count on their recent double album in a comparatively scant thirty-four minutes, but on the flip side, this means that these tracks constantly meander and lack any semblance of a discernible structure. Admittedly this occasionally gives the songs an epic feel, but TLoT could definitely benefit from a few reprised hooks to lend their compositions some shape. It also feels as though singer and guitarist Matthew Ratcliffe has yet to find a vocal style that works for him; his low, raspy cleans are serviceable but lack range and his gurgly growls are completely decipherable yet strained, as though Mikael Stanne were badly in need of a lozenge.

The Loom of Time 2016

Continuing with the Dark Tranquillity comparisons, TLoT’s lyrics are soaked with a distinctly pervasive cynicism. You wouldn’t perceive this attitude through the instrumentals alone, though, because, despite the ceaseless tide of blunt societal criticisms, NihilReich revels in its diversity and experimentation. The first five tracks (of six total) are all highlights in this regard; “The Cries of the Weak” is notable for laying on the doom elements especially heavy and for rocking a wonderfully bluesy solo, while “The Peons of the Cosmos” sports a fantastically catchy, post-black tinged chorus. The only disappointment is closing track “The Fight For the Subhuman,” which is solid yet underwhelmingly straightforward doom. Regardless of whatever genre TLoT is playing at any given point, you’d better like it loud, because that’s all you’re going to get. NihilReich’s tones are heavy and the mix is good despite the buried bass, but everything is so cranked that the sound can become muddled during the album’s busier moments.

Production woes and songwriting flubs aside, The Loom of Time has crafted in NihilReich a refreshingly original debut that takes a unique approach to genre-bending. It’s not a surprise last-minute year-end list shatterer to these ears, but with the way they effortlessly balance melody with aggression, this should be a band that nearly any metal fan can find something to enjoy in. TLoT is a group to keep an eye on and considering they achieved something of this scope on their freshman outing, I’m eager to see the path they take from here. You should probably be on board.

Rating: 3.0/5.0
DR: 7 | Format Reviewed: 192 kbps mp3
Label: Aeternitas Tenebrarum Musicae Fundamentum
Websites: |
Releases Worldwide: December 2nd, 2016

  • Dr. Wvrm

    The logo and art are far less cheesy than I expected from a band that could have been named after a fantasy book or something.

    • Eldritch Elitist

      Haven’t you read The Loom of Time by Bobert Gordan?

      • SegaGenitals

        I wear fruit of the loom of time underwear

  • Monsterth Goatom

    Ah, that famous Pre-Raphaelite painting, “Lord Druhm entering the Castle of AMG”.

    • Eldritch Elitist

      But who’s the figure in the top right? Could it be *gasps* HMG!?

    • Monsterth Goatom

      If it is HMG, note how the banner behind his head suggests a golden halo spilling its light towards Druhm, whose armor matches the golden hue on the banner. HMG passes his brilliance on to his disciple!

    • I am mighty.

    • Juan Manuel Pinto Guerra

      You’ve just hit a home run with all bases loaded, Monsterth

      • Monsterth Goatom

        The Astral Dwarves of Aberdeen inspire me.

        • Juan Manuel Pinto Guerra

          That’s no baseball team, is it?

          • Monsterth Goatom

            No, but, hmm…. There’s an idea.

    • Carlos Marrickvillian

      Funniest comment ever!

    • herrschobel

      that´s some serious AMG worshipping right there !

  • Juan Manuel Pinto Guerra

    No surprises, Metal is awesome year after year. That’s why we’re Metalheads after all.

  • Zach Ward

    Just by that album art I have to listen to this. Even if it revived a 1/5 I would’ve had to. Got to love some gud art.

    • Juan Manuel Pinto Guerra

      This is the kind of cover art that “back in the day” would had made me buy the album just upon seeing it at the record store.

      • Reese Burns

        Definitely begs for a vinyl-sized print.

        • Juan Manuel Pinto Guerra

          Hell, it begs for a huge poster to put on the wall!

          • Reese Burns

            If they put out one of those nice flag-prints, I’d shell out for that.

          • Juan Manuel Pinto Guerra

            So would I!

  • Bats

    This is a 4.0 me easily. JESUS!

  • Ben Harris

    This is really good, I’d love to buy it, but they want $666 AUD. I’m guessing they forgot a decimal when they loaded the price into bandcamp.

    • SegaGenitals

      I saw that. I think when you go to buy it turns to name your price if memory serves

  • Lars Barres

    I dig the embedded track so I went to their bandcamp page to buy it.

    $666.00 for digital download.

    Methinks they need to weave themselves a better sense of humor, one that doesn’t cost them sales.

    • Eldritch Elitist

      Yikes. I sent the band a message on Facebook to see if that price should’ve had a decimal in it.

  • herrschobel

    even though this is not my cup of tea i´d give this a 3.5. at least…very well executed and unique sounding….plus i love the Artwork…

  • lennymccall

    I already checked this out a couple days ago. Was really into the first two songs. Third song came on and it ruined my whole intrigue. Oh well

  • Excentric_13073

    This is actually way better than I expected from the review. OK, not WAY better, but another half point better. It’s probably because I’ve been looking for that “weird thing” to listen to all year, but haven’t really found. Accurate criticisms though.

  • Eldritch Elitist

    For those who’ve noted the ridiculous album price on the band’s Bandcamp page: I got in touch with the band and they informed me that the album can be purchased from the label’s Bandcamp.

  • 3:38 – EPIC.
    I totally support the ambitious idea of abandoning ABAB structure and playing from A to Z instead. And from what I hear, these young fellas are really good at it. Even great. Like, 4.0 great.

  • contenderizer

    Amazing album. Agree w/ Bats & others that 3.0 is way too low.

    Also, for those confused by the comedy download pricing, you can buy CDs & digital files (for only €6) at their label’s Bandcamp page…

    Which I’m apparently not allowed to share here? I tried including it yesterday in a post that’s still marked “pending”. Weird. Anyway, the address is right there on the album cover image in the sample track link.

    • theoldsun

      Same for my comment, I assume including a URL in the text has triggered some kind of moderator queue.

    • Eldritch Elitist

      I initially was prepared to give this at least a 3.5, but it didn’t hold up as well as I would’ve liked over a dozen or so spins. Believe it or not, over the course of this review I stumbled upon a review that claimed this album was “metalcore” and slapped it with a 0 out of 10. No, really.

      Also, I don’t think the band included the link to the label Bandcamp in the stream’s album art until after I contacted them, so I’m glad to see that they took steps to solve the confusion!

  • Phil Daly

    I grabbed this a few days ago and have been listening to it ever since. Took a little while to click, but now it has, it’s firmly embedded. Not sure I get a Cathedral vibe from it. Main feeling I get from the more melodic passages is Carcass circa “Surgical Steel”. Damn fine effort for a debut, and that art is fabulous.