Title: Hierophany Of The Open Grave
Genre: Occult Black Metal
Release Date: 19th August 2011
Label: Season Of Mist
NIGHTBRINGER have been around for almost eleven years, but their debut album just barely saw the light of day in 2008. However, their occult, twisted black metal was a well kept secret as it brewed and brewed until exploding as a cataclysmic chasm of music that basically swept away all the naysayers and critics who felt that they would be just “another black metal band”. Despite being an underground group, NIGHTBRINGER brings forth an eclectic and depraved collection of black metal ideals that are as foul as the work by WATAIN but also as interesting as something by DEATHSPELL OMEGA. One moment it is beautiful and the next a destructive hailstorm of guitars, all dripping in venom and disgust. However, lyrically, the band is more than praising Satan or asking death to Christianity. Like DEATHSPELL OMEGA, they tend to lean towards a story with each track that just runs along in its own way, making reading the lyrics just as enjoyable as listening to the music. No choruses, no verses- just revelations spit in black metal. ‘Hierophany Of The Open Grave’ is NIGHTBRINGER’S third effort, and by this point they’ve pretty much earned a reputation to uphold. This time they’ve recruited some help from vocalist Ar-Ra'd al-Iblis of ACRIMONIOUS fame, and his vocal and lyrical support really makes the album even more demonic than the sophomore effort.
Like their previous works, ‘Open Grave’ is a violent tumult of music straight from the opening track ‘Rite Of The Slaying Tongue’. The guitars aren’t as fuzzed out and lo-fi as a lot of occult black metal, but the tuning seems off and unpredictable even as the band tries to keep rhythm, which is part of their progressive ability to keep listeners off balanced and somewhere in between being unsure if they like it or hate it; either way they keep listening. Then there are tracks like ‘Eater Of The Black Lead’ and ‘Via Torturosa’ which sounds almost OPETH-esque and with the acoustic lead in and then suddenly it morphs into a tremolo picking fury that sounds as visceral as HORNA but also strangely catchy as one can pick up rhythms behind the wall of sound. ‘Psychagogoi’ aims for more of an atmospheric track by using the distortion to echo the vocals and even though the music sounds like it is hurtling, the riffs are actually very slow and methodical, making this a possible attraction to fans of depressive black metal. ‘The Angel Of Smokeless Fire’ involves funeral church hymns that bring out the atmosphere. ‘The Gnosis Of Inhumation’ has a balance between furious tremolo picking and sudden slow, percussive moments with just the vocals, which sound their darkest here when not covered by the music; fans of FUNERAL MIST may enjoy this. Finally ‘Old Night’ is a monolith of horror and black metal, featuring creepy piano amongst the raging, chaotic guitars and making the echoing vocals sound even more depraved in their madness.
Starting off fresh and ending fresh, NIGHTBRINGER have once again created a philosophical nightmare that crushes everything in its path. Far from typical, the band did well to sign to Season Of Mist where their unorthodox talents would be much appreciated. The band still performs gritty black metal, but with a more modern touch of variation within the tracks so it doesn’t sound repetitive by track five and listeners think they can know the whole album just by listening to half of it. ‘Open Grave’ is a roller coaster that stays in the same vein as previous works without pulling a sudden one eighty for experiment’s sake to be progressive, so there should be no love lost from older fans. And of course new fans will sink right into this for those who like esoteric black metal that is still clear as day and ferocious as night.
01. Rite Of The Slaying Tongue - 7:24
02. Eater Of The Black Lead - 8:15
03. Psychagogoi - 7:28
04. Lucifer Trismegistus - 5:21
05. The Gnosis Of Inhumation - 6:25
06. The Angel Of Smokeless Fire - 7:27
07. Dreaming Above The Sepulcher - 5:21
08. Via Tortuosa - 6:41
09. Old Night - 8:15
Naas Alcameth: vocals, lyrics, guitar, bass
Ophis: guitar, bass, lyrics
Nox Corvus: vocals, guitar, bass, percussion
VJS: guitar, drums, backing vocals
Ar-Ra'd al-Iblis: lyrics, vocals
Total: 9 / 10