Apr 272023


(Andy Synn embraces the suffering with the upcoming new album from Nightmarer)

For some people the entire Dissonant Death Metal scene can be summed up by one band: Ulcerate.

It’s understandable. After all, not only did they effectively set the template for the style (at least in its modern incarnation) with 2011’s Destroyers of All, they then re-defined it once more with Stare Into Death… in 2020.

But I’m here to tell you that there’s far, far more to the Disso-Death movement than that, from similarly foundational records such as Flourishing‘s The Sum of All Fossils and Ageless Oblivion‘s Penthos, to genre-expanding albums from Ingurgitating Oblivion and Light Dweller, to promising debuts from potential future-leaders like Growth, Barús, and Aeviterne.

And then there’s Nightmarer, whose name should already be on your mind whenever you think about the best and brightest of the new wave of dissonant dissidents… and if they weren’t before, then they definitely will be after you hear Deformity Adrift.

Now, one thing you should have noticed about the various bands I’ve already mentioned (and I’ll admit here that the above list is by no means definitive – I haven’t even touched on the seminal role played by Gorguts, for example – and will certainly have overlooked many equally-notable names, both new and old) is that, while they certainly share some superficially similar features, none of them quite sound the same.

What this says about this particular sub-genre is certainly up for debate – I’m sure there are those who will contend that it’s purely a media-fabricated construct, despite the evidence to the contrary – but to my ears it simply suggests that unconventionality is, perhaps paradoxically, one of its definitive features.

Whether that’s true or not, it’s something which Nightmarer‘s latest album seems to embody, with its heavy (and I do mean heavy) emphasis on the darker, borderline doomier, side of the still-evolving Disso-Death spectrum – something which, at times, errs closer to the sound of Meshuggah at their most dense and discordant than it does to anything Ulcerate-esque.

Truthfully, one of the few similarities which Nightmarer share with their antipodean antecedents is the fact that the absolutely devastating drum-work of Paul Seidel (who I first encountered behind the kit in War From A Harlot’s Mouth many, many years ago) plays a similarly vital role in elevating their music to a whole new level, and his performance here – pushing the extremity with both character and flair – really is something which deserves to be remarked upon more.

That’s not, however, to downplay the contributions from the rest of the band (including the brilliant bass-work of session-stringer Brendan Sloan), as there’s no doubt in my mind that Deformity Adrift is a true collaborative effort, one which relies upon the seamless symbiosis of everyone involved to achieve its final form.

This sense of synergy and cohesion is present everywhere throughout the album, from the pulsating push-and-pull of opener “Brutalist Imperator” and the almost unrelenting intensity of “Baptismal Tomb” (whose penultimate excursion into unsettling ambient territory only makes its crushing finale hit that much harder) all the way through to the ominous closing bars of obnoxiously heavy final track “Obliterated Shrine”.

Along the way the band’s love of abrasive discordance and abusive heaviness, their experimentations with atypical song-structuring – sometimes cyclical, sometimes linear, yet never repetitive or without direction – and their gift for crafting both texture and tension (the latter aspect in particular taking many forms, from the off-kilter atmospherics of “Tooms” to the nerve-jangling noisescapes underpinning “Taufbefehl” and the hanging notes and unresolved patterns of “Hammer of Desolation”) continues to bear monstrous, mutated fruit, and it’s unlikely that many listeners will ever be satisfied with a single taste.

Back when I last wrote about Nightmarer I remember saying that, whatever form it may take, their new album was going to be bigger and better than anything they’d done before. And I wasn’t wrong, because this is the sort of album that only seems to get heavier, and hit even harder, the more you listen to it.

It’s quite an achievement, make no mistake, and one which should – deservedly – propel them right to the top of the Dissonant Death Metal mountain.


  1. I’m so stoked for this one. Every single is killer and the artwork is just as beautiful as it is unsettling. 2023 is shaping up to be a banner year for heavy music again. At least for my taste 😛

  2. ’22 was a solid year for disso-death with the likes of Dysgnostic & Dischordia dropping monsters, so far Anachronism hits the mark this year, and each of them having their own uniqueness. Look forward to giving this a proper listen. Thanks for sharing!

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