posted on 5/2010 By:
Sometimes you just know...
One listen to one song was all it took to know that I not only wanted to pen words about this album, but likely buy it as well. The name Nightbringer only brought to mind a vague remembrance of positivity, but a thorough digestion confirmed and furthered initial impressions that Apocalypse Sun is one harshly serious slab of forward-thinking, instrumentally impressive and downright soul-shattering black metal. These Colorado natives may ring up occasional parallels to more well-known USBM acts, but the material contained herein ranks amongst the genre’s most seething, regardless of geography.
The opening duo of “I Am I” and “Supplication Before the Throne of Tehom” displays the faster, more active of the two approaches that Nightbringer brings to the table on full-length number two. The dissonant and torrential attack of interlacing riffs and extremely skilled drumming might (might, I say) have listeners imagining a marriage between the soaring guitar techniques of Krallice and the staunch devotion to darkness best exemplified by Deathspell Omega. (It must be noted that Nightbringer has actually existed much longer than the former, and thusly the comparison is meant only as a reference point. So don’t start calling these guys “Evil Krallice"; it wouldn’t be accurate.) The music swarms, with differing elements taking turns shifting melodies, as if they are engaged in some twisted high speed chase as an ultimate homage to Discordia herself. It is often difficult to discern exactly how many guitar parts exist at one time, and the fact that things stay tight is a testament to both the band’s skill as musicians and the quality of their compositions.
The other approach employed is the dirge, eschewing the more melancholic tendencies heard in the Pacific Northwest and instead using the less-intensified music to accentuate the emotional disturbances communicated throughout the album. On these tracks, Nightbringer utilizes a form of tempo variation in which tremolo picking is stretched over slower drumming in the same way that a canvas is stretched over its frame. The resulting music appears pushed beyond its own limits and thusly provides the listener with merely the illusion of respite between the more cacophonous pieces.
If a criticism has to be made, it is that Apocalypse Sun ultimately loses a bit of focus within its 66 minutes, due not to the existence of mediocre material (there is none), but more so to the album’s immense scope. Thankfully, the closing trio of “Nephal- The Seat of Pan-Daimonium,” “The Utterance of Kasab’el,” and “Fount of the Nighted God-Head” back-loads the album with ferocious quality. The first is an absolutely wild ride that sees the band using every tool at their disposal to provide not only the album’s best track but also its most intense. The second is the poisoned deep breath before the plunge, and the third is the extended death rattle, bleeding with finality but very much not with a happy ending.
Apocalypse Sun might stop short of the masterpiece tag -- it isn’t quite Foulest Semen of a Sheltered Elite -- but it is easily one of the best black metal albums of recent memory, standing particularly unique amongst Nightbringer’s USBM peers. Essential to even the most stubborn of the corpse-painted hordes, this record will create that special kind of venomous joy that only a truly top notch black metal album can provide. In other words, from the first furious introduction of the swarm, you will just know.
If you require more convincing, know this: I have already purchased my copy.
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