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Review: Nachtvorst - Stills

Label: Black Devastation Records
Year released: 2009
Duration: 47:29
Tracks: 5
Genre: Black Metal

Rating: 4.25/5

Review online: February 17, 2011
Reviewed by: Memnarch
Readers Rating

Rated 3.82/5 (76.36%) (11 Votes)

Whenever someone mentions Dutch black metal, the first bands that initially come to mind would be Countess and Urfaust. Not one of The Netherlands' most productive genres that's for sure. Nachtvorst's debut album Stills, released by Black Devastation Records in 2009 presents an extremely fresh perspective on European underground black metal, for its compelling approach at blending the 'post-' with the 'depressive', and for an attempt at blending in a style of which is for the majority American by name and nature, it's a commendable effort.

With four tracks no fewer than eight minutes long each, and an instrumental thrown in for good measure, Stills is no easy listen. Everything from funeral doom, sludge, death, depressive black metal and even post-rock is present in Stills. It's an assorted mix of genres which when combined most of the time can just sound awkward, but Nachtvorst manage to execute it well. Right from the off, opener "Dawn of End" comes crashing down like a colossal wave of misery, constantly lashing away with the ebbing guitars and heavy bass. The bass is prominent throughout the whole album, which is something that helps give Stills a touch more identity. It contributes a great deal to the ominous, asphyxiating atmosphere Erghal and Leopold are aiming for. And talking about a crushing atmosphere, one listen to track two "Murmurs" and you're utterly crippled. It's nothing more than a crude wall feedback and bile-encased distortion of guitar and hellishly low bass. It's no easy listen and I can certainly hear a bit of SWANS influence among others here.

The final three tracks are more in the traditional vein of black metal but it's the constant diversity in every aspect of the music that keeps Stills so engaging. "Wandering" would be without a doubt the best track on the album, and at times feels like it could have been an outtake from Storm of the Light's Bane. It's one of the more 'upbeat' tracks of the album if you could call it that, and in total contrast, closer "Epitaph" is pretty much just that, with its roots firmly buried in the depressive black metal scene with its hollowed out guitar lines and fervent desperation.

Whether it's Leopold's transitions between his higher-pitched nail-spiked shrieks or his guttural death growls more akin to something off a Dismember album, or the guitar riffing ranging from traditional tremolo riffing, to post-rock interludes to dirging sludgy passages, this doesn't get boring. If you're one who complains about black metal being too monotonous with lack of variation and talent then I can't recommend this album enough. For the majority it's a slow-paced, meandering behemoth of oppression, ranging from depressive black metal to sludge and everything in-between, and definitely makes Nachtvorst one to watch for the future.

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