Every now and then AMG himself deigns to drop an unknown chestnut of metal into my promo bin and demands my thoughtful analysis. From past experience, these have ended up being quite enjoyable surprises (Dofka, Degial). Now he’s provided me with From the Dark, the second release from the obscure Swedish stoner/doom act Nymf which walks the line between typical stoner acts like High on Fire and Orange Goblin, American trve metal like Argus and more traditional doom like Candlemass. They write simple, energetic songs loaded with big, bruising riffs and some decent choruses. They also shake up tempos enough to avoid things getting too tedious and lethargic. Despite these positives and some solid playing, they’re often hamstrung by bad vocals which drags the material down and hurts what would otherwise be a respectable, if not groundbreaking effort. Still, it speaks well of the band that parts of From the Dark end up listenable and enjoyable, even with the sub-par and frequently distracting vocals.
Lead track “Fear of the Doom” caught my ear because it reminded me of the crisp power-prog of long forgotten Pathos and their classic Hoverface opus. The riffs are punchy and powerful, everything has a great tone and it all flows nicely. Were it not for Niklas Sjoberg’s nails-on-blackboard screechy, one-note delivery, it would rock much harder and ride far freer. “Possessed’ is better and has a more hooky swing; tunes like “Black Core” and Evolution Blues” channel the ballsy, chuggy doom power of Argus; “Postmortem” has an early Danzig feel to the riffing and both “Drive” and “The Greatest Burden” sport a Kyuss vibe which works rather well. However, all are brought low to one extent or another by the cringe-inducing vo-kills.
Not all the material here is of the same quality and tunes like “Thin Ice” and “In the Name of Vlad” are flat even though they have decent riffing. The album also feels too long at twelve songs and a bonus track. The style they play is engaging enough, but by nine or ten cuts, the listener will start glazing over from too much mid-tempo plod.
I’ve always been a sucker for the type of riffs Kristopher Stjernquist and Martin Fairbanks batter the listener with. Though often doomy in nature, they’re infused with a rock vibe that renders them way more energetic and propulsive. They also find ways to work in interesting psychedelic aspects here and there and sometimes veer close to Spiritual Beggars in sound. I also love the guitar tone they use throughout the album. It’s heavy, thick and really gives the songs a good slap on the ass. Without further berating Sjoberg’s vocals, they just don’t work for me. He’s very limited in what he can do and he detracts rather than adds to most of the songs.
This is a decent album that could have much better. These guys have potential and I like the cut of their jib, though I feel short-changed with From the Dark. Fans of Argus and High on Fire may want to take a flyer and sample this anyway.