Last September I came across a song called “Treachery and Id” that stopped me dead in my tracks. It was a taste of what the UK trio Nihil Eyes had cooked up on their debut album Black Path (which was mixed and mastered by none other than Dan Swanö). As I impetuously wrote back then, it made me imagine a giant rushing freight train, exploding with destructive full-ahead power, delivering a barrage of skull-cracking grooves and quickly addictive riffs, and also including a couple of eye-opening solos that swirled, soared, and erupted in a volcanic frenzy. The vocals were downright bestial, too.
Nihil Eyes self-released that album via Bandcamp a month later, but it has now been picked up for a CD and digital release on May 18th by Ultraje, a print magazine and record label based in Portugal (with an edition in Brazil now as well). This new release facilitates the introduction of Black Path to new listeners who overlooked it last fall, as well as offering a physical edition to those who already know how damned good it is. And, as is obvious, it also gives us an occasion to write about the music once again.
And so, although this isn’t really a true “premiere”, we enthusiastically present a stream of Black Path’s opening track, which shares the band’s name.
The metallic tastes of Nihil Eyes were formed through memories of bands in the late ’80s and early ’90s, before thrash, death, and grind had diverged to the extent they often did in later periods. And their music reflects these inspirations, without sounding like a rote re-tread of anything.
“Nihil Eyes” (the song) is a masterful melding of pitch-black atmosphere and shuddering physicality. Its pacing and moods are dynamic. In its slower movements, anchored by chords with a massive, radioactive tone and equally gigantic rhythms, the slow, slithering melody is hopelessly morbid. When the speed accelerates, the music surges with staggering force, powered by vicious riffing, a spine-fracturing drum attack, and palpably savage, infuriated vocal tirades. That snakelike melody continues to resurface, becoming an increasingly seductive and increasingly lethal poison.
In the song’s closing minutes, the band lock into a brutish, stomping, pavement-cracking groove that becomes the foundation for double-bass flurries and eerie wailing sounds. The whole experience pulls the cork on where your adrenaline is bottled up, waiting to be let loose.
This really is a very fine album, with strong song-writing and a really strong sound. If you missed it the first time around, don’t miss it again.