Tuesday, October 4, 2011

Nightbringer- Hierophany of the Open Grave(2011)

Nightbringer- Hierophany of the Open Grave

As caustic and demonic as anything released this, year Hierophany of the Open Grave is an unstoppable mass of swirling black carnage that is immediately haunting and intense. Nightbringer have always flirted with greatness in the past, but it was often a shortage of ideas coupled with songs too long for their own good that doomed solid albums like Death and the Black Work and Apocalypse Sun into the dreaded, "good but not great" category. At most, Nightbringer had been a furious, albeit under-achieving, young act still trying to find its way in the American Black Metal scene.

Hierophany of the Open Grave leaves no questions about where Nightbringer stand amongst their US peers now: they have arrived as one of the finest and most powerful young acts in Black Metal today. By taking the classic Norwegian sound and adding the dissonant, technical leads popular with French(and French sounding) Black Metal acts, Nightbringer stand apart from any of the Orthodox Black Metal acts that are all the rage right now. The guitar work on Hierophany is something to behold: almost completely tremolo picked, they are technical and dissonant, but not without some meat to them. Thankfully, Nightbringer also tone down the blast beats on this album: they will still cut loose hammer through dozens of notes and beats in seconds, but Hierophany shows a new maturity in song writing that was not on previous albums. Ideas and riffs are given enough time to work their black magic and hook listeners in for the long haul. Song lengths remain extended on Hierophany, but now songs are not running out of ideas 3 minutes before the end of the song.

The atmospheric elements of Hierphoany are the strength of this record. "Eater of the Black Led," easily the strongest track on the record, begins with an acoustic interlude before heading into a slow, demonic riff that layers on the evil before things speed up. But they never get too fast, and the fantastic vocals keep the air thick with darkness. To think that this is the same band that released 7 mintues songs on Apocalypse Sun that were entirely driven by blast beats is pretty hard to believe.

Every band has to "grow up" to reach that next level. Nightbringer have done just that with Hierophany of the Open Grave. But not only have Nightbringer grown-up, they have shown wisdom beyond their age with this release. Without a doubt the finest Black Metal release of the year, Hierophany of the Open Grave is the kind of album that transcends its own era and stays with listeners well past its initial listen like all truly great albums do.

Rating: 9.5/10

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