Album Title: What Lasts Forever
Label: Independent Release
Date of Release: 7 August 2020
Just like police officers, I get the occasional hunch. My hunches may not lead to the capture of a murderer, but they do occasionally lead to the capture of another incredibly strong musical discovery. On my social media feed some months ago, I was presented with a sponsored advert for a band called Nyktophobia, who described themselves as a blackened death metal band. Naturally, as it’s me, I investigated a little further, and soon after, was listening to ‘Yearning From An Uncharted Grave’, the first song released upon the world from their upcoming album, ‘What Lasts Forever’. On this one song alone, I hurriedly contacted band, desperate to get access to a promo. The promo never came, and sadly, I was never able to bring this review to you prior to the release of the album.
But I had a hunch, one that I wasn’t willing to ignore further. If I couldn’t get a promo, I’d do things the old-school way and buy the album, something I’d do anyway if I liked the music. I placed my pre-order and even though the physical copy has yet to arrive, I now have access to the album via a digital download. It means that I can finally find out whether my hunch was right. And, without wanting to sound arrogant or conceited, it most certainly was.
Does a blend of Dissection, Insomnium and Amon Amarth sound like it could be a winning formula? Apparently, famed producer Jens Bogren thinks so and if, like him, you’re shouting ‘yes’ at the computer screen right now, I suggest you read on.
However, before delving into this record, I want to put a little meat on the bones first. Nyktophobia are a German quintet, from Datteln that has been in existence since 2015, releasing two full-length records prior to unleashing this one upon us. The five-piece is comprised of singer Tomasz Wisniewski, guitarists Michael Tybußek and Phillip ‘Schwede’ Reuter, bassist Ben Bays, and drummer Christian Timmer.
Alongside both predecessors, 2017’s ‘Fallen Empire’ and 2018’s ‘Fate Of Atlantis’ (both of which I need to hear), ‘What Lasts Forever’ is an independent release from these driven Germans that does suffer from a flaw or two, which I will start with. Firstly, the production could have been stronger. By no means poor, when I listen to the music on my headphones, I find the music to be a little muddy and lacking in definition and a little bit more separation when it comes to the individual instruments. However, without the backing of a label and a decent budget, the result is nothing to be ashamed of and by and large, it doesn’t ruin my enjoyment of the music at all. The second slight flaw, is the fact that the album only lasts for just over 33 minutes. I know that Slayer’s classics, for example, never lasted longer and an album shouldn’t be measured on its duration alone, but when you consider that the ironically-titled ‘What Lasts Forever’ consists of nine tracks with one being a short instrumental intro, I really would have liked an extra song somewhere. This is purely a personal opinion, so please don’t let this alone cloud your opinion of the record.
And with that out of the way, let’s focus on what’s good about this album. The answer is ‘everything else’.
If you were to make a judgement on the music just by looking at the front cover, you might come to a similar conclusion to me, that this could be quite a cold, dark and bleak affair. In reality, whilst there’s no denying the ‘dark’ aspect, the music is actually incredibly warm and inviting, full of majestic melodies that weave their way in and out of each of the songs, led in the most part by the fast-picked, staccato riffs and lead lines of the two guitarists. But don’t think the music isn’t heavy or extreme because the drumming is an almost unrelenting battery of blasts and thunderous beats, whilst the vocals offer no surprises whatsoever, except to say that Tomasz Wisniewski does flit between a deep Omnium Gatherum-type growl and more of a higher-pitched black metal schriek just to create a little variety.
There’s also a surprising groovy element to some of the material too. Take ‘Nightwanderer’ as an example. For the first couple of minutes, it has more in common with the black metal genre until it open up into a killer melody and whilst the drumming remains frenetic, the groove is there to be heard and thoroughly enjoyed. To be brutally honest, it is simply a killer song all-round, with not a moment of its 248 seconds wasted.
‘The Appearance of The Seven Suns’ continues the high quality extreme metal battering, as elegant and oddly serene as it is pummelling and uncompromising. The early In Flames-like groove that appears just after the half-way mark is incredible and elevates the song to a point that it is easily one of the best on the album.
The Dissection references are more clearly heard on the first single, the aforementioned ‘Yearning From An Uncharted Grave’, especially within the opening guitar riff and the ensuing tumult that’s kept in check by a tight rhythm section and more sophisticated melodic sensibilities.
A word has to go to the opening instrumental piece that sets the tone for the record beautifully. It might be a classical, strings-led piece, but it is achingly beautiful and you know that these guys are on the same wavelength when it comes to beauty and melody in music – it’s the rich and inviting intro that tells you that what’s to come is likely to be special.
The same can be said for the final track on the record, the excellent ‘Moribund’. Again, it is full of darkness and solemnity, led by lamenting strings and a lone piano. It is here that those doom influences come to the fore, especially when the slower-paced metallic ensemble of instruments joins the fray. For me, in a similar vein as ‘The Flames Of The End’ ended At The Gates’ seminal ‘Slaughter Of The Soul’ so perfectly, ‘Moribund’ is the perfect conclusion to ‘What Lasts Forever’, albeit very different stylistically.
Overall, ‘What Lasts Forever’ is a massive triumph. It is an album that I’ve not been able to stop listening to since getting hold of it. Ok, so it isn’t the perfect album but hell, it does its level best to be the very best that it can possibly be. And it succeeds. There isn’t a weak track to be heard, with each delivering something to my ears to be devoured and repeated. I really hope that Nyktophobia get a record deal soon, because their efforts and output thoroughly deserve it. This is easily one of the best blackened death metal albums I have had the pleasure to listen to in recent times. In short, my hunch was right and I look forward to having the CD nestled proudly within my collection…I just hope the guys remembered to sign it as I cheekily requested!
The Score of Much Metal: 92%
Check out my reviews from 2020 right here:
Ages – Uncrown
Awake By Design – Awake By Design
Black Crown Initiate – Violent Portraits Of Doomed Escape
Gaerea – Limbo
Buried Realm – Embodiment Of The Divine
Navian – Reset
Selenseas – The Outer Limits
Quantum – The Next Breath Of Air
Ensiferum – Thalassic
Long Distance Calling – How Do We Want To Live?
Airbag – A Day At The Beach
Re-Armed – Ignis Aeternum
Atavist – III: Absolution
Frost* – Others EP
Darker Half – If You Only Knew
Atavistia – The Winter Way
Astralborne – Eternity’s End
Centinex – Death In Pieces
Haken – Virus
Pile Of Priests – Pile Of Priests
Sorcerer – Lamenting Of The Innocent
Lesoir – Mosaic
Temnein – Tales: Of Humanity And Greed
Caligula’s Horse – Rise Radiant
…And Oceans – Cosmic World Mother
Vader – Solitude In Madness
Shrapnel – Palace For The Insane
Sinisthra – The Broad And Beaten Way
Paradise Lost – Obsidian
Naglfar – Cerecloth
Forgotten Tomb – Nihilistic Estrangement
Winterfylleth – The Reckoning Dawn
Firewind – Firewind
An Autumn For Crippled Children – All Fell Silent, Everything Went Quiet
Havok – V
Helfró – Helfró
Victoria K – Essentia
Cryptex – Once Upon A Time
Thy Despair – The Song Of Desolation
Cirith Ungol – Forever Black
Igorrr – Spirituality and Distortion
Nightwish – Human. II: Nature.
Katatonia – City Burials
Wolfheart – Wolves Of Karelia
Asenblut – Die Wilde Jagd
Nicumo – Inertia
The Black Dahlia Murder – Verminous
Omega Infinity – Solar Spectre
Symbolik – Emergence
Pure Reason Revolution – Eupnea
Irist – Order Of The Mind
Testament – Titans Of Creation
Ilium – Carcinogeist
Dawn Of Ouroboros – The Art Of Morphology
Torchia – The Coven
Novena – Eleventh Hour
Ashes Of Life – Seasons Within
Dynazty – The Dark Delight
Sutrah – Aletheia EP
Welicoruss – Siberian Heathen Horde
Myth Of I – Myth Of I
My Dying Bride – The Ghost Of Orion
Infirmum – Walls Of Sorrow
Inno – The Rain Under
Kvaen – The Funeral Pyre
Mindtech – Omnipresence
Dark Fortress – Spectres From The Old World
The Oneira – Injection
Night Crowned – Impius Viam
Dead Serenity – Beginnings EP
The Night Flight Orchestra – Aeromantic
Deadrisen – Deadrisen
Blaze Of Perdition – The Harrowing Of Hearts
Godsticks – Inescapable
Isle Of The Cross – Excelsis
Demons & Wizards – III
Vredehammer – Viperous
H.E.A.T – H.E.A.T II
Psychotic Waltz – The God-Shaped Void
Into The Open – Destination Eternity
Lunarsea – Earthling/Terrestre
Pure Wrath – The Forlorn Soldier EP
Sylosis – Cycle of Suffering
Sepultura – Quadra
Dyscordia – Delete / Rewrite
Godthrymm – Reflections
On Thorns I Lay – Threnos
God Dethroned – Illuminati
Fragment Soul – A Soul Inhabiting Two Bodies
Mariana Semkina – Sleepwalking
Mini Album Reviews: Moloken, The Driftwood Sign & Midnight
Serenity – The Last Knight
Ihsahn – Telemark EP
Temperance – Viridian
Blasphemer – The Sixth Hour
Deathwhite – Grave Image
Marko Hietala – Pyre Of The Black Heart
SWMM – Trail Of The Fallen
Into Pandemonium – Darkest Rise EP
Bonded – Rest In Violence
Serious Black – Suite 226
Darktribe – Voici L’Homme
Brothers Of Metal – Emblas Saga
A Life Divided – Echoes
Thoughts Factory – Elements
You can also check out my other reviews from previous years right here: