Nightfell’s latest, Darkness Evermore, is an aural tapestry of isolation and nihilism. From the opening of the album to its close, the band displays a refreshingly wide range of attack. Consisting of Tim Call of Aldebaran on drums and vocals, and Todd Burdette of Tragedy and His Hero Is Gone on guitar and vocals, this Portland duo utilizes elements from its members’ past bands while also integrating funeral doom and old school death and black metal. In short: Darkness Evermore is an undeniably distinct monolith of chilling heaviness.
“At Last” opens the album with a dirge of clean guitar and accompanying violins. Nightfell then leaps into plodding doom, the ominousness of which is intensified by Call’s drag-beat drumming. The vocals in this section, as well as throughout much of the album, sound like those of Obituary’s John Tardy—a deep, rasping scream that’s likely as torturous to execute as it is to hear. Three-minutes in, Nightfell jumps into a hypothermic waltz, and Burdette enhances the chilling core of this section with tremolo guitar work. Unlike many metal bands, Nightfell allows their music to develop organically, rather than forcing changes for empty technical appeal. The remaining seven minutes of “At Last” are equally crushing.
The second track, “Ritual,” is a menacing haze of droning choir vocals that will raise the hair on the back of your neck. The brief song also provides an unsettling transition into the death swing of “Cleansing,” which relentlessly churns until, roughly halfway through, the heaviness dissipates into eerie ether. Led by Call’s tireless double bass drumming, Nightfell then traverses back into cold black metal.
Label: 20 Buck Spin
“Rebirth” follows the fading end of “Cleansing” with an intro that sounds like one His Hero Is Gone’s simultaneously depressive and energetic opening sections. As with Burdette’s legendary d-beat band, Nightfell has a brilliant sense of how to balance grooves and anxiety-ridden fast sections to keep its songs from ever feeling dull. Following a constricting deluge of old school black metal—complete with Burzum blasts—Burdette creates a toxic pool of hope-eroding acoustic guitar. Amazingly, Nightfell has the ability to evoke despair through brutality as well as haunting softness.
Darkness Evermore closes with “Eulogy” and “Collapse.” The former segues into the final song with catatonic violins, eulogistic speaking, and minimal tom work that pays homage to Jason Roeder’s drumming for Neurosis. Call then opens “Collapse” with a bleak waltz, which provides the center of gravity for the track until he and Burdette launch into a section that swings like the grim reaper’s scythe. This last cut also features an icy bridge of high guitar notes and tom-heavy rhythmic abuse that builds into manic black metal—all before circling back to despondent swing.
Having released two amazing albums in as many years, Nightfell is sure to become underground royalty. Darkness Evermore is a perfect soundtrack for the next time you decide to lock yourself in a decrepit cabin in Norway, curl up in a corner, and contemplate the unforgiving winter.