|Review: Nyktalgia - Peisithanatos|
Label: No Colours Records
Year released: 2008
Genre: Black Metal
Review online: January 22, 2009
Reviewed by: Brett Buckle
Atmosphere — it's a difficult thing to produce on a music recording; for some genres of music an album is used to enhance an already existing atmosphere, or the atmosphere is supplied by the surroundings the music is played in with the music only complementing it, but the job of a good Black Metal album is to supply the atmosphere itself. It is the key to good Black Metal, and all the classics supply (drip with? Overflow with?) an atmosphere of some kind. With their latest long player, Germany's Nyktalgia accomplish this task of creating atmosphere, one of loneliness and of desperation, and particularly of isolation. Put Peisithanatos on in a dark room and listen through headphones and you feel as though you are the only person in the world, and aren't happy about it either. Nyktalgia are often classed as DSBM, and that may have been more apparent on their self-titled debut, but they have moved away from that slightly with Peisithanatos, an album of more traditional style, with their DSBM tag being largely a consequence of their lyrical content and vocal delivery.
This type of music relies very much on the strength of the melodies and accompanying riffs to deliver the atmosphere that is required to draw the listener into the world being crafted by the band, and on their sophomore opus, Nyktalgia supply exquisite melodies and sorrowful progressions in spades. Opener "Nyktalgia" delivers on all counts, and is an incredible start: rumbling double bass drives a wonderfully urgent tremolo riff from the start, merging into a verse of hate-filled screeching before spending the middle sections entrancing the listener with beautiful melodies that are both soaring and sorrowful, hateful and desperate. The atmosphere of the album rests upon a particularly strong production where all instruments are clearly audible (the bass lines add an oddly menacing undertone, as if in backlash against the cold and sorrowful guitar tone). The guitars have a rich full sound that still retains an icy edge, and can really put you on edge in the more dissonant sections of the album (the blasting section in the middle of "Nekrolog" will have a similar effect on you similar to fingernails on a blackboard). Similarly, the drums are clear, even during the blasting, and are uniformly excellently done, being varied, brutal and complimentary to the guitars on all occasions.
Vocally Peisithanatos is quite varied (within the boundaries of the genre), with convincing Black Metal shrieks, blackened growling, and the signature wailing of DSBM, where it sounds like Skjeld is screaming in utmost anguish, his voice on the verge of breaking under the strain — it really is quite exceptional, and never approaches the insane and annoying nattering of similar vocalists such as Nattram of Silencer fame. Lyrically Peisithanatos dwells on thoughts of inner torment and pain, of suicide and darkness, and largely bring nothing exceptional to the table, but they are also not cringe worthy like so many of their peers. You can't understand any of it without the aid of the lyric sheet so they are thankfully easy enough to ignore.
Where Nyktalgia really shine however, is in the song writing department. The album consists of 4 quite lengthy (11+ minutes for 3 of them) tracks that at no stage become stale or uninteresting. The riffing flows from tremolo inducing blasting, melodic mid-paced sections, through acoustic interludes, and even some exquisite extended guitar solos. Throughout all this the atmosphere is maintained, and there is never any section that sounds forced or out of place, and for that the album is a cohesive whole, a vision that has been realized effectively.
It is easy to see why Nyktalgia are often cited as being at the forefront of the DSBM movement; they are masters of their craft, delivering long songs about inner torture and suffering without coming off as being self piteous. They write songs that are both brutal and beautiful, incorporating elements that are not often found in Black Metal (especially the numerous and excellently written guitar solos), and the musicianship is well above the average, especially the drumming. I will not limit my recommendation to fans of DSBM, this is an album that will appeal to all fans of Black Metal. It's not essential, but it is definitely a superior effort that is well worth your time investigating.
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