It turns out I’m a judgmental son of a bitch. I admit it, I label people before they even open their mouths and I usually find many decisions made by others to be dumb and immature. I don’t mean to be this way, but I’m very much a person that “judges a book by its cover.” However, I have to say that nothing pleases me more than discovering that the dickhead talking to me with his Corona Light and sport coat over a Superman shirt is actually cool as shit. I like to be proved wrong about someone’s character. It makes for a much better conversation. The same goes for music. When I read promo blurbs like, “no boundary of genre” or “totally new stuff, no comparison,” teamed with song titles like “Blood, Cum, and Shit,” I immediately roll my eyes and judge the fuck out of that album. But like I said earlier, every once in a while I’m proven wrong. While I wouldn’t exactly compare Madmans Esprit’s new album to a “bro encounter,” Nacht definitely put me in my place nonetheless.
Though “no comparison” might be a stretch, Nacht has real uniqueness in its delivery. Incorporating elements from Shining, this South Korean one-man outfit is thick with depression, like a puddle of blood pooling below slicing razors. Within a few moments of opener, “My Little Dark Paradise,” I am immediately hooked. This eight-minute beauty showcases everything from emotion-laden BM chords, classic raspiness, some V-Halmstad-era Shining sorrow, and even hooky Muse-like vocals. On top of the overall atmosphere of the song, you’ll also find a mellow Shining-meets-Opeth piano section at 4:27 and an addictively gothy power metal chorus. Somehow Nacht delivers all of these harsh-to-soft transitions seamlessly without being overly “progressive.”
And even though “Blood, Cum, and Shit” appears to reek of Nattefrost’s piss and feces, it turns out to be one of the most beautiful songs on the album. Structurally it utilizes Cobalt-meets-Shining melody/emotion with a nice mix of gruff and power in the vocal department. The opening vocals are some of the best on the album and dig deep into your skin. Other elements include the introduction of operatic female vocals, calming piano interludes, and some jazzy drum patterns (you can find more of the latter in “The Lily and the Rose”). From here, the album continues its ascent and really begins to grow. One of the stand out songs on the album, “A Gaunt Tree” expands on all previous elements with some acoustic and orchestral passages, giving it that epic seal of approval. Kyuho also delivers some Sigh-esque vocals that finish off the song in a massive way.
While not as concise and as impacting as “A Gaunt Tree,” the progressive, nine-minute “The Lily and the Rose” delivers some calm Muse moments that tie “A Gaunt Tree” in perfectly with “Absolute Darkness.” Building from slow acoustic picking to heavy chugging, “The Lily and the Rose” meanders through progressive metal, including a powerful chorus and a destructive ending that smashes head first into “Absolute Darkness.” The latter song pushes Nacht further into bleakness with just a hint of light off in the distance – that “light” coming in the form of an “upbeat” Mercenary-esque chorus.
But it’s the closer, “In der Nacht” that makes you wish there were another six songs on the album. Bass-heavy and doomy, this track will leave you staring long and hard into the album cover in hopes that the blackness will swallow you whole. Madmans Esprit proves that depression can be even more powerful with suspenseful builds, soaring vocals, calculated arrangements, and hauntingly beautiful choruses. And it’s these elements as a whole that makes Nacht shine.
Though there is nothing special about the production, the instrument and vocal presence are well mixed. The bass is heavy and thick and the drums are soothing in slower moments and ferocious in the faster numbers.
Full of life (and death), Nacht is a stunning debut that demands attention. If you enjoy Shining but are looking for memorable choruses and more vocal variety, then check this shit out and don’t pre-judge!