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Album Review: Nightgrave-Nascent

Typically the creation of good music requires a team of dedicated musicians with the same aspirations, working together and weaving their various talents into the project.  This is especially the case with a band pursuing a musical styling such as atmospheric black metal, as there is an intimidating number of layers within the genre that equate to its overall aesthetic.  Nightgrave, however, is a one man band. One man with the versatility to pursue an atmospheric black metal career on his own. One man, taking control over every aspect of the music’s composition, instrumentation, and direction.  One man located in New Delhi, India, with scarcely any resources to produce his ambiguous project. Yet he does, and despite every card in the deck being played against him, he has created something truly remarkable. Nascent is a direct translation of pain into music, and although this statement could be made about atmospheric black metal in general, this record commits to the feeling of despair in every circuit of its being.  

In terms of local influence, Nightgrave have none.  As stated by Raw (the captain of the one man band), “Live performances mostly revolve around some douchebag pressing play on his laptop and sadly, the hapless, helpless youth eat that up because they have hardly ever known or understood the crushing depth of originality or maybe the mainstream media has them ever so successfully blinded.”  The nonexistent metal scene surrounding New Delhi is not a disturbance upon the atmosphere of Nascent, however, as highlighted by it’s overwhelming contents of agony.  The record, despite its lack of local influence/landscape (which is supposedly a must for an atmospheric black metal band), manages to convey its intentions quite briefly, which is especially evident within the album’s lyrical content.  The song lyrics are abrupt and dark, at times just barely above the length of a typical stanza. The lyrical passages speak for themselves, showcasing dark, cryptic passages that seamlessly fit into the instrumentals, yet they are nothing entirely revolutionary within the gerne.  

The instrumental content of the record is somewhat of a mixed bag; it cycles between standard black metal saw riffage and clean parts, often becoming intertwined.  A definite highlight is the layering of guitar harmonies and effects upon various instrumental parts. The unique sound of the effects and their subtle incorporation add originality where perhaps the instrumentals lack the impact required in certain segments.  Other instruments, such as the piano, add even more texture to the guitar harmonies through their subtle incorporation, a nice touch that goes a long way. The drumming is excellent as well, it’s simplicity in certain segments brought out more than continuous blast-beats ever could.  Aside from these inclusions, nothing especially is gripping in this category. Never are they defective, as the instrumentals are still of quality, but their simplicity and typical nature eventually weigh down the album as they slowly become more and more repetitive.

The peak of this record is easily derived via the vocals, for where the other elements fail, the vocals easily make up for those mishaps.  The vocal stylings include choral elements that accelerate the impact of the clean parts, and slow-burn clean segments that are almost reminiscent of a bass alongside the instrumentals.  The screams, however, are the fundamental feature. If I were to credit anything to be solely responsible for this album’s quality, it would be the effect the screams induce upon the listener.  The album’s atmosphere is rooted in these disgorged vocal lines, as the choked, raspy cries echo on within the listener’s ears long after the album has finished it’s cycle, truly synchronizing with the being of pain.                    

As a record dependent on an established atmosphere, it is crucial that the music is either able to keep or evaluate upon that tone.  Nascent occasionally fails to maintain this motto.  Songs such as “Purification By Fire” fail to continuously hold the tonality to a tier, as they begin to drag due to simplistic chord progressions that repeat throughout.  The record’s length is the main culprit, contributing heavily to the record’s tonal inconsistency, as most songs could’ve been cut shorter, therefore helping to retain the resonance the songs originated with rather than drag on.  The track “Cold Hands” even goes as far as to repeat the same lyric stanza several times throughout, ending with a bland attempt of an atmospheric outro that wasn’t a necessity to carry the album forward. Again, these are very minor defects, perhaps not even noticeable in the grand scheme of positive traits this album also inherits.    

Nascent will certainly bring Nightgrave into the light of underground black metal.  It’s contents drip with elements any black metal fan will adore, from the multi-layered instrumental harmonies, to the exasperated and dry vocals, this is atmospheric black metal at heart. Occasionally it stumbles with tonal inconsistencies, length issues, and repetition (as do most records of this genre), yet it manages to get back onto its feet with it’s creative instrumental procedures.  Nascent is a fantastic solo effort, brimming with atmosphere and despair, and despite it’s shortcomings, it manages to retain a steady illustration of agony.  

Nascent is available now via Bandcamp

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