I’m an old dude and there’s no getting around it. Because of my advanced case of age, I’m much more susceptible to nostalgia-core than those younger than I, and when 80s-flavored fares are hawked, I’ll always elbow my way to the front and sample them lustily. Nite is a brand spanking new project by members of Dawnbringer, Satan’s Wrath and High Spirits, and what they’re cooking here is a rollicking mixture of classic 80s metal with a decidedly blackened edge. Anchored firmly in the salad days of NWoBHM, you’ll get more than your fill of Maiden-esque guitar harmonies and arena rock metal leads, but you also get blackened vocals that would feel at home on a Nachtmystium album. This makes for some interesting moments and yes, it gets my nostalgia-itis acting up mighty fierce. These cursed youngins know how to get under my aged armored skin, but is mere nostalgia enough to get into my veins?
You’d be inclined to think so based on barn burning opener “Genesis” which is like a lost track off Dawnbringer‘s stellar Nucleus album spiced up with contributions by Nachtmystium and Abbath. The 80s traditional riffing is laid on generously and it’s awesomely awesome as old timey riffs builds on NWoBHM riffs and Maiden-esque harmonies give way to even more Maiden-esque harmonies. Added to this musical assisted living metalloaf are harsh, distorted black metal vocals which provide extra punch and menace. It’s a recipe for fabulous disaster and tough to resist for Iron Age geezers like me. I keep spinning and respinning this one because it gets the formula so damn right nothing could possibly go wrong. Elsewhere “Lucifer” nails an ominous 80s goth rock vibe that sounds like an evil relation of The Cure. This sort of thing has been done before by Cursed Moon and it works here for the same reasons their stuff works – it’s fun and just oddball enough to make a lasting impression. The one-two punch of “Night Terrors” and “Chains” are also highpoints, with the former loaded with insanely catchy riffs and harmonies, and the latter just out to rock your socks off like the best of Dawnbringer‘s material did.
Sadly, there are some issues that hold this back from becoming the next novelty hot topic like Idle Hands or Ghost. There’s a nagging tendency to drag songs out to the point where they grow a bit irritating, no matter how strong they may start off. Even the best cuts suffer from it but have the charisma to withstand it. A Lesser cut like “The Way” however, feels like it needs to end after 4 minutes but then lumbers on for another 2 like an unstoppable golem. Worst case is “Ezelia,” which I fully enjoy for its Bathory, Mercyful Fate influences, but by the 3 minute mark I’m ready to move on and it is most decidedly not, lingering for another 3 minutes for no good reason. These extended jammy jams make the album feel longer than its 46 minutes and lessen the overall impact of some very sharp playing.
Speaking of sharp playing, this thing is a warehouse of righteous guitar licks. Scott Hoffman (ex-Dawnbringer) and Van Labrakis razzle and dazzle with tons of NWoBHM leads and harmonies paired with heavy riffing taken from the Bathory and Immortal schools. Every song gives you at least one smile-inducing moment and as a whole this is a fun album to blast and nod along with. Labrakis’ vocals are rough and ready, a distorted black metal bark, but they get tiresome after a time as there’s no real variation in the delivery. An occasional shift to cleans or any other type of vocal style would do wonders, but such is not in the cards here.
Darkness Silence Mirror Flame is a fun album by a semi-super group and there are moments that make me excited to see what the band does next. However, their inability to tighten and self-edit prevents the material from achieving that next level where it becomes required listening. It’s a shame too, as the band is so close to making their sound really ignite. Nostalgia certainly got their foot in the door this time, but they’ll need to bring more to the Porch ov Steel next time if they want to get me on the Nite bus.