Written By: Hell³

12 Jacket (3mm Spine) [GDOB-30H3-007}One release that got badly overlooked in 2014 was the debut of Portland’s Nightfell. Buried below the avalanche of notable productions that got out after its release on early February, few dug it out at the end of the year to give it a place on their lists. As a brooding piece of lightly D-beat infused Doom/Death, it’s a cunning mix of the lengthy musical background of both members. Back after little more than a year, they switched labels going from Southern Lord to 20 Buck Spin and just unloaded another crushing shipping container filled with engaging riffs and melodies named Darkness Evermore.

The drum kit is the domain of Tim Call, who has been part of notable Profound Lore bands Aldebaran and The Howling Wind, among others. With the former being a funeral doom staple, and the latter deeply entrenched into black metal chasms, his work would hardly ever be classified as one-dimensional or flat. Tom Burdette, responsible for the guitar and bass on Nightfell, has equally impressive credentials. He’s known for hardcore acts Tragedy, Warcry, and the short-lived but highly influential crust band His Hero is Gone. By now you’re probably rolling your eyes at the thought of yet another obscure sludge band wasting the time you’d better use replaying Repentless. But to pigeonhole this band is a huge mistake.

Now, track-by-track reviews are highly frowned upon here, but with only six songs constituting 42 minutes of music, with four of those minutes being a couple of interludes, it’s hard not to rave about the four remaining songs and their remarkable quality. Opener “At last” throws a bit of a curveball making the listener think they may be headed into lead-lined doom territory, building over a mournful guitar melody backed by cello, reminiscent of Pallbearer’s output. But then the throaty growl of Burdette and meaty guitar tone show lush progressive death riffing in a late-Morbus Chron style. The protracted song lengths may cause some apprehension, but the rhythmic and melodic structures are constantly shaken up by Call and Burdette. You get Mayhem-like tremulous guitars and galloping beats mixed around the solid riffing and engaging hooks that also have a strong melo-death feel on the fantastic “Cleansing.” Call doesn’t pull punches and mingles D-beats with blast-beats on “Rebirth,” while Burdette breaks it in half with an atmospheric build-up so dense it could make any Cascadian band from their native Portland blush. Closer “Collapse” provides another twist to the formula by having a Celtic, Primordial tint, with martial beat included, once again showcasing the duo’s great songwriting abilities.

Nightfell_2015

There are very few nitpicks with Darkness Evermore. One would be the length. I support the idea of leaving the listener wanting for more, but without the interludes this release is barely above EP length. If the interludes were developed into proper songs it would be way more satisfying. Still, the overall record manages to set up an arching plot that can be inferred by looking at the track titles, without ever falling into concept album trappings. The second nitpick would be the production. It’s a clear step above their debut with the mix more balanced and punchy, but it’s still mastered a bit loud. That said, it’s still quite enjoyable and not very fatiguing, ensuring a lot of replay value. It definitely makes one hope the upcoming vinyl release features a more dynamic mastering.

Even if you’re not familiar with Nightfell’s previous work or the duo’s other projects, Darkness Evermore is more than enough to send you scrambling for more music from this gruesome twosome. This is one of the more notable blackened death/doom releases of the year, as narrow as that scope  may be, and I encourage you to check out last year’s The Living Ever Mourn if you haven’t already.


Rating: 4.5/5.0
DR: 8 | Format Reviewed: 320 kbps MP3
Label: 20 Buck Spin
Websites: Nightfell.bandcamp.com
Releases Worldwide: September 11th, 2015

 

 

 

 

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  • Listening to it at the moment. Digging it big time! It reminds me a lot of Ruins of Beverast but with a slightly faster overall tempo.

  • WalrusKing

    It’s refreshing to see the complaint is that the album is too short rather than too long!

    • Monsterth Goatom

      Just finished streaming it, and I wish it did go on longer. As SD says, it starts out sounding like another slab of Doom, but then goes off in cool directions. I like the abrupt end on the last track. Will definitely check out TLEM as well.

      • My bad, forgot the byline. I didn’t right this, Hell³ did.

        • Monsterth Goatom

          Ah, no worries. Good work, Hell³.

  • Wilhelm

    I’ve been lobbying for a review of this band in several posts, so I’m glad it’s finally here. The only thing that could be improved is the dynamics, although I have to say it has more of a clausterphobic sound than an overproduced polish, which is a bit less harmful. The songs are melodic, dark heavy and interesting. Like the last one, this will probably end up in my year end list.

    • I may be a sucker for pick slides because damn if I don’t want them to do the same thing next year. And the next.

  • Really loving what Nightfell has put out thus far. Now the question is whether to grab this on vinyl or not.

    • I have no experience with 20 buck spin vinyl, but I think I’ll get it on my next shopping spree, I may post my experiences here. AND it’s a single 12″ platter so it’s not as expensive as the now common double LP’s.

  • Oscar Albretsen

    Hmm, Portland doom. usually a good combination. Pallbearer may be my favorite doom metal band of all time, and this sounds KILLER. Another CD added to my Amazon cart which I’ll order when I get paid at the beginning of next month. But I might seek this one out on Spotify until then. 20 Buck Spin, too. Very reliable label (I was listening to Khemmis when I came across this review).

  • You wot m8?

    Brace yourselves, the “the guest writer doesn’t know what he’s talking about” comments will be coming soon… That 4.5, it is a curse!

    • While it may be entirely true that I don’t know shit :D, I stand by that score, one of the best and most memorable releases of the year for me, thanks for reading!

  • Oscar Albretsen

    Update: Now that I’ve been hearing their last album, it’s in my cart,too. Death meatal vocals and doom metal music were made for each other.

    • Juan Manuel Pinto Guerra

      The peanut butter and chocolate of Metal!

  • Thatguy

    No dog?

  • Pimpolho

    Where is Hell3, btw? He has been around for so long, and it has been a while since he commented something.

    • manimal

      To the best of my knowledge he’s been on a gonzo-journalist expedition to get the lowdown on Charon’s eternal money laundering scheme HQ’d at the banks of the Styx. Short excerpts of writing sent back with some totally emo dude called Orpheus have given us reason to believe that there’s potential for a book deal down the line, which might expand to an action-figurine franchise that will be HUGE (it includes all of Zeus’ children).

      I’d just like to send down a word of caution – when the Hell’s Angel’s found out that Hunter S Thompson wrote a book, and made money off it, money they never saw any of, they proceeded to beat the humanure out of him.

      Be safe and send that royalty check to H.

      Just sayin’, buddy.

    • As cool as the manimal story is, the sad reality is that work got a bit crazy. I’ll be back though!

  • JL

    Wow strong score here. I don’t think it’s a 4.5….probably a 3.5. I like the debut more and I agree that it was totally the sleeper hit of 2014. No one really talked about it and it’s quite excellent.

    • WIDESHOTOFUNCERTAINTY

      Indeed…a pity Southern Lord didn’t do much to promote The Living Ever Mourn…while it was a tad too wayward for my tastes, it was great…enjoying the new one for its direction and not laying on the crust too hard.

  • CyberJesus

    Just gave it a listen on bandcamp and although I like it, I agree with others on here that it’s probably not quite a 4.5. I prefer the Dead to a Dying world album and that only got a 4.

    • After reading your comment I went on and listened to Litany again and while I also like it a lot I kind of connect more with Darkness Evermore.

      But, scoring is still subjective, and I get where you’re coming from. As a reader I have a lot of respect for the 4’s and 4.5’s that have been given here and they really should be special. I still stand by it, these guys took me entirely by surprise and I’m still wondering why there isn’t a lot more people raving about’em.

  • This is a tasty, tasty platter.

  • Excentric_13073

    I like this better than the latest from Horrendous THERE I SAID IT

  • 36 minutes is EP length now? It’s ideal death metal album length is what it is. No one wants 50 minutes of death metal, unless it’s Opeth back when they were still good.