I Am The Night – While the Gods Are Sleeping Review

There’s absolutely nothing wrong with pining for the olden days of yore. Retro-gaming is a lucrative, enjoyable hobby that not only fires the synapses of Those Who’ve Been There, but also introduces a new generation of gamers to legendary titles. Classic movies get remade and reworked all the time with varying degrees of success. And in metal, people romanticize about a time when being evil required more than initials-for-names and ominous hooded sweatshirts. Two of those people are Markus Vanhala, guitarist for both Insomnium and Omnium Gatherum, and his OG ex-bandmate, bassist Janne Markannen. Yearning to dive into the classic 90s wave of black metal, they enlisted members of Abhorrence, Horizon Ignited, and Paradise Lost to pay tribute to the Black Wizards via their new project, I Am the Night.

After a short introductory piece, “Hear Me O’ Unmaker” blasts away, whipping a flurry of sharp snow and biting wind in your precious, delicate eardrums. Waltteri Väyrynen (Paradise Lost, Abhorrence) fits comfortably with his militant blasts, frantic double-bass and cymbal work, and blistering speed, while Vanhala and Markannen mostly keep to razor-sharp tremolos and tight riffing. Okko Solanterä (Horizon Ignited) keeps to a throaty rasp, but remains convincing and clear throughout the song. It’s a good indicator of what’s to come, which is a heaping dose of Emperor and Dissection worship.

And I do mean heaping. “Ode to the Night” is straight-up Storm of the Light’s Bane hero-worship, with an incredible arpeggiated melody that Jon Nödtveidt would have been impressed by. Album highlight “The Owl” dips into Nightside Eclipse territory, complete with powerful singing. Penultimate track “Among the Unseen Ones” closes with Solanterä giving a sung passage that grows more frantic and chaotic, ending with him screaming as the song dies out. Sure, While the Gods Are Sleeping might not be original, but when it’s this well-played, it’s a tremendous homage to an influential sound.

That’s when everything fires on all cylinders, though. While the Gods Are Sleeping‘s bookends, the title track and “Holocaust of the Angels,” don’t add much to the proceedings and are ultimately inconsequential to the overall vibe the band’s giving off. Elsewhere, Vanhala’s incredible melodic riff in “Ode to the Night” overstays its welcome, as it’s used and abused repeatedly throughout the song. Elsewhere, the production is also a bit rough, with Vanhala’s guitars and keyboards taking up a ton of room in the mix.

But I would be lying if I didn’t say that I enjoyed this album when it was playing. While the Gods Are Sleeping reminded me of why I fell in love with this sound over 25 years ago, despite all the bullshit tied to it ever since, and I Am the Night possesses incredible talent. You can tell when something’s a cash grab or a labor of love, and While the Gods Are Sleeping easily classifies as the latter instance. It’s a fun, welcome throwback to a sound that, in the right hands, can still put a vile grimace huge smile on my face.

Rating: 3.0/5.0
DR: 8 | Format Reviewed: 192 kbps mp3
Label: Svart Records
Website: facebook.com/iamthenightofficial
Releases Worldwide: May 6th, 2022

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