Nightfell – Never Comes the Storm Review

In a recent review, I described the death/doom sound of Grand Harvest using a variety of band comparisons. One of our lovely readers soon brought up one I meant to include but somehow left out: Portland’s Nightfell. Mere days later, Nightfell‘s Instagram account became active after an extended hiatus, teasing some artwork and the date “4.1.22.” Then lo and behold, they sneakily self-released their fourth full-length album on that very date. Nightfell‘s Bolt Thrower-gone-atmospheric sound crushed me on 2019’s A Sanity Deranged, and if I’d known a follow-up was coming, it would have been one of my most-anticipated releases of this year. Alas, the dudes in Nightfell robbed me of that sweet, sweet anticipation with their surprise album. Well, two can play that game. Behold! Here’s my surprise review!

Since their formation in 2012, Nightfell have released an interesting and compelling body of work. They specialize in blackened death/doom that goes heavy on atmospheric passages but is just as likely to lay waste to your body with bulldozing tremolo riffs. Perhaps the most unique (and best) part about Nightfell‘s albums is their brevity. Each of their four albums is under 42 minutes, and each of them leaves me wanting more, totally avoiding the pitfall that ensnares many bands that focus heavily on atmosphere. For instance, I’ve seen Nightfell‘s sound being compared to The Ruins of Beverast, and while I agree that there are stylistic similarities, Nightfell delivers the same emotional payload in half the time and with none of the tedium.

And clocking in at just under thirty minutes, Never Comes the Storm is Nightfell‘s shortest album yet, and its six tracks could—and probably should—be viewed as six parts of one epic whole. The album leads off with the lament of “The Martyr’s Last Breath,” a powerful intro that uses mournful keys and ominous synth swells to set the stage for first proper track “Emptiness of Belief,” an exercise in melodic doom that dabbles in the grand rhythms of Viking metal. A couple more short interludes introduce what is undoubtedly the climax of the album, the immense title track. The main riff of “Never Comes the Storm” could grind diamonds into sand, and the track lulls you into a false sense of security by dropping into a melancholic doom section before annihilating your very atoms with its monstrous outro. Chalk this one up as another Song o’ the Year contender. Things come to a close with some pagan doom in the form of “End of the Rope,” a lengthy epic that’s just about as hopeful as its name.

I am once again blown away by the musical intelligence of Tim Call (Mournful Congregation, Weregoat) and Todd Burdette (Tragedy). I’m constantly griping about purely “atmospheric” bands that sacrifice substance for form, but these guys absolutely nail the balance. Never Comes the Storm packs more atmosphere into 30 minutes than most bands could do in twice the time or more, and it does so while simultaneously pulverizing your face with thick, juicy grooves. There is so much bottom-end heft on display here that Queen would undoubtedly write a song about it were it to ever ride a bicycle; the bass sound is so enormous that it boosts the music into a new level of heaviness without overwhelming the other instruments. You want highlights? Just listen to the whole damn thing. It’s less than half an hour for cripes’ sake!

Nightfell might have been sneaky with this release, but they couldn’t get one past old Holdeneye. As long as these guys throw new albums out, I’ll be ready to catch them like Happy Gilmore catches batting cage balls. Never Comes the Storm pairs excellently with the recent Grand Harvest, and has easily secured a place alongside that album on my list of year-end contenders.


Rating: 4.0/5.0
DR: 7 | Format Reviewed: 320 kbps mp3
Label: Self-release
Websites: nightfell.bandcamp.com | facebook.com/nightfellpdx
Releases Worldwide: April 1st, 2022

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