I Am The Night – While The Gods Are Sleeping – Album Review

Artist: I Am The Night

Album Title: While The Gods Are Sleeping

Label: Svart Records

Date of Release: 6 May 2022

Are you a fan of 90s melodic black metal in the Scandinavian tradition? Do you like bands like Emperor, Dissection, Mayhem, and Immortal? If your answer to these questions is a resounding ‘yes’, then you need to read on, because this record is for you.

I never like to use the term ‘supergroup’, but there’s a strong argument to use it here, because I Am The Night features some familiar names in metal circles, albeit not necessarily connected most strongly with black metal. I Am The Night is comprised of Omnium Gatherum and Insomnium’s Markus Vanhala on guitars, ex-Omnium Gatherum member Janne Markkanen on bass, Horizon Ignited’s Okko Solanterä on vocals, and Paradise Lost drummer Waltteri Väyrynen. Salivating yet? You should be.

The first thing that hit me when I checked out the promo was the artwork. It sounds daft, but the cover immediately stirred something within me. It harkens back to the likes of ‘Storm Of The Light’s Bane’ with its frosty, cold, blue palette and shrouded central figure. Without knowing anything about the clientele involved, I knew that this was a record that I simply must check out.

My senses were proved right, too, because this record is the real deal. The intro to the whole thing, the title track, might only be a little over two minutes long and a largely instrumental piece in the best black metal traditions going back aeons, but the tone is set immediately, and you just know that what’s to come is going to be good. The guitar tone instantly evokes the frostbitten soundscapes with which we are all very familiar, whilst the slow tempo creates a sense of eerie malevolence, built upon by the keys that only help to increase the foreboding, evil atmosphere.

‘Hear Me O Unmaker’ however, is the point at which I fell in love with this record. It has that classic 90s sound to it, that’s created by icy, claustrophobic guitar riffs, layers of synths, and a driving tempo led by fierce drumming. The shifts in pace and the transitions between sections are smooth and really add to the drama, and the aggression that’s palpable throughout. Solanterä’s growls are an ideal accompaniment to the malevolent atmosphere, gritty and nasty, as he spits his diatribes about the strength of the night, and the powers within the darkness. The whole thing is so infectious, especially when you add the majestic melodies that are memorable without undermining the dark nature of the composition.

The last time I so thoroughly enjoyed the screeching, wailing harmonics of a lead guitar as heard within ‘Dawnbearer’, I was listening to the almighty ‘IX Equilibrium’ album by Emperor. For the majority of this track, the assault is relentless, with drums and guitars seemingly trying to outdo each other for sheer pace and freneticism. However, in the second half, the pace slows, allowing the ever-present layers of keys to come even more to the fore, creating some sensationally sinister atmosphere, only added to by a deep voice reciting the The Lord’s Prayer. But it’s the tone of the guitars that steals the show at this point, as they are so delicious.

I Am The Night 2021. Svart Records. From left Waltteri Väyrynen, Janne Markkanen, Okko Solanterä, Markus Vanhala. Photo by Terhi Ylimäinen

Anyone missing Dissection will drool when ‘Ode To The Nightsky’ begins, as the intro is pure Nodveidt and co. The way the track then explodes alongside the evil screams of Solanterä is dark, heavy poetry, as is the entire track if truth be told, as the keys bathe everything in a blanket of cold, impenetrable darkness. I’ve always been a sucker for deep, monastic-style choral vocals and these make an appearance too, just underlining the excellence of the track in my humble opinion.

There’s a surprising amount of variety to be heard across the eight tracks too, with ‘I Am The Night’ a much more groovy affair, at least to begin with before descending into another frigid, icy attack that’s just pure nectar to those of us who like this 90s style of black metal. The whole album is well paced and keeps me interested as I listen, all the while delivering riffs, blasts, and growls, that harken back to one of the most exciting times of my life in terms of musical discovery. The band, in the press release, talk about their love of this music and they seem to have had a great time in recreating their own slice of this magic.

The love certainly shines through too, and nowhere is this more keenly felt that within ‘The Owl’ that encapsulates everything that can be so good about this music; the cold, fast riffs, the frantic drumming, the layers of dense atmospheres, elegant and majestic melodies – it has everything I want and more, including a quiet section where the metallic elements drift away to be replaced by a resplendent synth-led Gothic sequence, complete with the hooting and screeching of owls. With the addition of more choral vocals, it has become one of my very favourite songs on an album chock full of great music.

The only criticism that I could possibly level at this album would be that it literally offers nothing new to the metal scene. However, this is also as much a strength as it is a weakness. I Am The Night is a band that came together deliberately to pay homage to a style of music that all of these musicians hold dear, and there was never any intention to reinvent anything. And the fact is that ‘While The Gods Are Sleeping’ has got me excited in a way that is wonderful; the album takes me back in time and fills me with an infectious nostalgia, and for all the right reasons. This album reminds me in glorious technicolour exactly why I fell for this kind of music in the first place. And it does this because it is lovingly crafted and is of an incredibly high standard throughout. I could – and indeed have – listened to ‘While The Gods Are Sleeping’ over and over again and it hasn’t lost any of its magic. This is the real deal folks, you need this album in your lives.  

The Score of Much Metal: 94%

Check out my other 2022 reviews here:

Haunted By Silhouettes – No Man Isle

Delvoid – Swarmlife

LionSoul – A Pledge To Darkness

Watain – The Agony And Ecstasy Of Watain

Dischordia – Triptych

Dragonbreed – Necrohedron

Audrey Horne – Devil’s Bell

Vanum – Legend

Stone Broken – Revelation

Radiant – Written By Life

Skull Fist – Paid In Full

Hurakan – Via Aeturna

Incandescence – Le Coeur De L’Homme

Imminent Sonic Destruction – The Sun Will Always Set

Monuments – In Stasis

Soledad – XIII

Viande – L’abime dévore les âmes

Credic – Vermillion Oceans

Postcards From New Zealand – Burn, Witch, Burn

Darkher – The Buried Storm

Treat – The Endgame

Bjørn Riis – Everything To Everyone

Destruction – Diabolical

Et Moriemur – Tamashii No Yama

Angel Nation – Antares

Wolf – Shadowland

Denali – Denali EP

Centinex – The Pestilence EP

Meshuggah – Immutable

Chapter Of Hate – Bloodsoaked Decadence EP

Ancient Settlers – Our Last Eclipse

Tranzat – Ouh La La

Playgrounded – The Death Of Death

Father Befouled – Crowned In Veneficum

Abbath – Dread Reaver

PreHistoric Animals – The Magical Mystery Machine (Chapter 2)

Kvaen – The Great Below

Michael Romeo – War Of The Worlds, Part 2

Dark Funeral – We Are The Apocalypse

Carmeria – Advenae

Agathodaimon – The Seven

Moonlight Haze – Animus

Hellbore – Panopticon

Konvent – Call Down The Sun

Idol Of Fear – Trespasser

The Midgard Project – The Great Divide

Threads Of Fate – The Cold Embrace Of The Light

Arkaik – Labyrinth Of Hungry Ghosts

New Horizon – Gate Of The Gods

Cailleach Calling – Dreams Of Fragmentation

Tundra – A Darkening Sky

Sylvaine – Nova

Hath – All That Was Promised

Sabaton – The War To End All Wars

Kuolemanlaakso – Kuusumu

Oh Hiroshima – Myriad

Godless Truth – Godless Truth

Shape Of Despair – Return To The Void

Eight Bells – Legacy Of Ruin

Embryonic Devourment – Heresy Of The Highest Order

Serious Black – Vengeance Is Mine

Allegaeon – Damnum

HammerFall – Hammer Of Dawn

Immolation – Acts Of God

Veonity – Elements Of Power

Nightrage – Abyss Rising

Arjen Anthony Lucassen’s Star One – Revel In Time

Pure Wrath – Hymn To The Woeful Hearts

Dagoba – By Night

The Last Of Lucy – Moksha

Arð – Take Up My Bones

Embryonic Autopsy – Prophecies Of The Conjoined

The Devils Of Loudun – Escaping Eternity

Cult Of Luna – The Long Road North

WAIT – The End Of Noise

Abysmal Dawn – Nightmare Frontier

Amorphis – Halo

Nordic Giants – Sybiosis

Persefone – Metanoia

Vorga – Striving Toward Oblivion

Mystic Circle – Mystic Circle

Nasson – Scars

Burned In Effigy – Rex Mortem

Silent Skies – Nectar

Celeste – Assassine(s)

Abyssus – Death Revival

SOM – The Shape Of Everything

Ashes Of Ares – Emperors And Fools

Beriedir – AQVA

Lalu – Paint The Sky

Nocturna – Daughters Of The Night

Battle Beast – Circus Of Doom

Lee McKinney – In The Light Of Knowledge

Descent – Order Of Chaos

Aethereus – Leiden

Toundra – Hex

Ilium – Quantum Evolution Event EP

Power Paladin – With The Magic Of Windfyre Steel

Necrophagous – In Chaos Ascend

Infected Rain – Ecdysis

Wilderun – Epigone

You can also check out my other reviews from previous years right here:

2021 reviews

2020 reviews

2019 reviews
2018 reviews
2017 reviews
2016 reviews
2015 reviews

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s