Nachtterror‘s new album Judgement is one of those rarities that lavishly combines music and visual art, presenting a separate piece of painted artwork for each track — and it’s even more rare because the visual artist is also one of the band’s two vocalist/guitarists. You can see his album cover above — which we’re presenting for the first time — and after the jump you’ll see his evocative art for the song, “Sea of Dread” that we’re premiering today in the run-up to the album’s October 10 release by Hypnotic Dirge.
Judgement is this Saskatchewan symphonic black metal band’s first release since their 2015 split with Altars of Grief, entitled Of Ash and Dying Light. That split made a huge impact on those of us here at NCS, and on many other listeners. We had the privilege of premiering a track from that split by each band, and Nachtterror‘s contributions to the split displayed gripping dynamism in their compositions and an ability to create enveloping atmospheres of darkness around the ebbs and flows of intensity.
Since then, as this new song reveals, they’ve become even more accomplished in their craft, though that shouldn’t be surprising since Judgement has been nearly 10 years in the making.
“As the night begins, a storm rages within. He suffers from inside, for he had seen it all, and they would surely fall.” Such is the tale narrated through this new song, and it’s in keeping with Nachtterror‘s focus on the tragedy and suffering that life presents. But as you’ll hear, that’s only part of the band’s philosophy, which also includes an embrace of life’s inevitable pain and disappointment and the power of the self to use such experiences to persevere, to evolve, and to triumph. As they say of Judgement, “We want our listeners leaving our album understanding that ‘there’s something beautiful in the dark.’”
The crystalline guitar harmony that opens “Sea of Dread” creates a feeling of wistfulness and wonder, which turns out to be the beginning of a journey that grows increasingly heavier and more ominous, though the ringing melodies continue to display effervescence and a mesmerizing effect. The singing that accompanies that conjunction of powerful rhythms, rippling and gleaming notes, and crushing, jolting riffs is itself a combination of sensations, which seem both yearning and downcast — and eventually transforms into tormented, serrated-edge growls.
A slow, serpentine melody that bespeaks desolation winds its way through a phalanx of huge, hammering rhythms. The music grows even more intense as the vocals segue into cauterizing shrieks and a wrenching solo rises up in the tumult. The power of the music swells, ascends, batters, and blazes. Yet within that exhilarating and majestic crescendo, in which all the varying vocals join together, ringing keyboard notes still brightly shine, providing further glimpses of joy within a sonic conflict that seems to hybridize anguish and defiance.
It’s an emotional powerhouse of a song that leaves us eager to hear more.
Hypnotic Dirge will present Judgement in a 6-panel digipack CD edition that includes nine tarot cards, specifically conceived of and painted by guitarist and artist Lord Maelkleth (Eric Escott), to convey the story behind each track on the record. To see a selection of those other paintings, visit Nachtterror’s FB page. And for pre-order info as it becomes available, check these locations:
HYPNOTIC DIRGE RECORDS:
NACHTTERROR – FACEBOOK:
Wow! That Saskatchewan sound is so distinctive! Instant preorder.