Nightbringer – Terra Damnata
Alright fellow forest dwellers and gas-masked goat throwers, let’s get into the new one from ‘murican black metal band Nightbringer. I loved their last album, “Ego Dominus Tuus,” so I had preordered “Terra Damnata” and received the digipak shortly after its release. Fuck. I hate digipaks. Drop them once and the CD won’t stay in the tray anymore and you’re fucked. Sigh. Anyways, the enigmatic cover art is fantastic, and its abstract nature is very fitting to the music. So let’s get to that.
That moment when you realize a band’s fifth album is their shortest at “only” 52 minutes long. But holy shit, it’s a bloody productive 52 minutes. There’s no ambient intro here, which normally I would have no problems with, but since two of Nightbringer’s members have created some excellent dark ambient as Temple of Not, it seems like a missed opportunity to really set the tone of the album. But instead they rip right into the frenetic opener “As Wolves Amongst Ruin.”
It’s immediately obvious that Nightbringer have really evolved into their own sound. They have no interest in emulating other bands or worshipping the forefathers of the genre; they purely want to forge their own path. Sure, you could draw parallels to bands like Deathspell Omega, Averse Sefira, or even a distant cousin to “De Mysteriis Dom Sathanas,” but you can’t really pigeonhole them, thanks in no small part to the dizzying leads. Their high-pitched, noodling guitar is out in full force throughout the album weaving intricate, urgent riffs that rarely seem to double back on themselves. The songs are meticulous and unrelenting in their pursuit of occult enlightenment, and sometimes even give off a cosmic vibe, not unlike what you would expect to feel from a Darkspace album. It all makes for a very thick album to wade through, and you certainly won’t catch everything on the first spin.
Nightbringer know how to structure an album though, and the penultimate track “The Lamp of Inverse Light” is a well-placed slower piece that allows the album to breathe a bit from its own claustrophobically overwhelming content. A Julius Evola voiceover that will leave PC warriors twitching is backed by chanting as the plodding drumbeats give a lofty, triumphant riff in the background a solid direction. This respite leads up to the epic closer, “Serpent Sun.” It’s a tense, slow build, only picking up speed in the last minutes before abruptly abandoning you in a sudden void of silence.
And that contrast really hits you like a brick to the face. “Terra Damnata” is incredibly dense but executed so naturally that you don’t fully realize just how much is going on until that precipitous shift to silence forces your awareness of what you just left behind.
So where does that leave us? I’m not sure that it tops “Ego Dominus Tuus,” but “Terra Damnata” is no slouch and is exactly where you would want Nightbringer to take their music at this point. They have refined their sound to make it unmistakably their own, and it’s definitely worth your attention.