Author: Gay For Gary Oldman
Album: Oath of Elucidation
Genre: Melodic Black/Death Metal
I’m a sucker for melodic black metal, and even more so when it flirts with its cousin in death. So when a record passes my eyes which is promoted as melodic black/death metal, I’m doubtlessly going to give it a try. Nightkin hail from Detroit, and they’ve already got their work cut out for them by not being fronted by an eight foot purple mutant from the Mojave Wasteland. But it would be prudent to hold that against them, knowing how notoriously difficult Nightkin are to work with, and how much they’d resent an audience.
By introducing us with Apocrypha, Nightkin hit all the right early notes, but despite the label, this is certainly not Dissection worship. I’ve found it difficult to put a finger on, but the introduction reminds me of a young and ambitious Arch Enemy, but with more bite and even a sense of Dimmu Borgir’s rhythm. But the melody is deceptive, and as the band barge straight into Creature of Deranged Judgement, it becomes apparent that the adjectives have been reversed. Nightkin’s sound is firmly rooted in death metal, of a kind lingering somewhere between a modernized version of early Incantation and Suffocation, without being of either the brutal or cavernous variety. The melody in this music is entirely carried by the guitars, and the only hint of black metal peers through the motifs of the tremolo-picked melodies.
The guitar work on this album is exceptional. I was distracted with other business when the solo for Fear the Light began, and I dare you to not drop what you’re doing and air guitar with them. Continued exposure definitely begins to highlight the little gems in the band’s music, and black metal influences creep up in a string of blast beats here or a menacing chord progression there. Guitarist David Lock used to play bass for The Black Dahlia Murder, as did drummer Zach Gibson, also formerly of Abigail Williams. Other members include tenures in The Red Chord and Supercontinent, so the band does well in combining their previous experience.
An unfortunate element of the production is that whilst all the instruments are balanced excellently, during the faster sections, the triggering of the drums is extremely apparent and has that much-reviled ‘clicky’ sound that Fenriz loathes so much. The opening to Public Execution, whilst frantic and pummeling, is an obvious example. But the delicate and clever drum work elsewhere, such as the ride cymbals in Disgusting Cycle of Futility more than compensate for it.
Album highlight would have to be My Work is Not Yet Done, with the absolutely devastating gutar harmonies of the closing, fading out in just enough time to unleash the blasting of Eyes of Reward, peppered with lead guitar flairs to break up the otherwise slab of brutality and the roaring vocals of “Gunface” McKenzie.
For an unsigned band, this record shows an extremely good grasp of songwriting, style, balance and flair. There is not a single dud track on this album, and despite never relenting, there is a subtle enough grasb of melody to keep it engaging throughout. This is a release that would have impressed me if it was on a major label, but astounded me from this group of musicians. I daresay they won’t stay unsigned for long, and this record should be a sign of great things to come.
- Gay for Gary Oldman
Check them out here: https://nightkin.bandcamp.com/album/oath-of-elucidation