Nightfell’s apocalyptic story of survival and imprisonment fuel anxiety on ‘Darkness Evermore’

NIghtfellAs much as I enjoy summer’s descent into fall and the coming winter months, they also fill me with a degree of anxiety. For it also is the coming flu and illness season, and with that will come me over-washing my psoriasis-ridden hands and avoiding places I generally don’t during spring, summer, and early autumn months. I’m a good time over winter. Just ask wife person.

I got to thinking about this for two reasons: First, it’s been the first stretch of days here in my section of the East where temperatures barely are making it to 65 degrees, and the skies are charcoal gray. Second, I’ve been spending a lot of time with “Darkness Evermore,” the second record from Nightfell. See, this new opus, every bit as dark and foreboding as their debut record “The Living Ever Mourn” (funny, but you pair both of their album titles together in a sentence, and they sound like the blackest lyrics of all), focuses on a tale of humanity being ravaged by a plague, and its survivors are forced to seek shelter underground in order to remain alive. Once there, they realize they’re trapped themselves in a sort of underground prison, bringing new levels of hell to their existence. Terrifying, because I’d probably be the first person running for the hatch. Maybe I need to rethink that one.

12 Jacket (3mm Spine) [GDOB-30H3-007}Nightfell, in case you are unaware, is a pairing of two relentless forces who comes from different ends of the underground spectrum respectively but find common quaking ground here. Todd Burdette is best known from his work in bands such as Tragedy and His Hero Is Gone, and he teams up with Tim Call, who has made his name known in Aldebaran, Sempiturnal Dusk, the Howling Wind, and plenty more, as well as running the awesome Parasitic Records. Here, the two creators meld doom, death, black metal, and cold atmosphere, and each step of “Darkness Evermore” feels like a new, more hopeless chapter in their story, as you can feel the decay and erosion.

The tale begins with “At Last,” which opens with clean guitars, Julia Kent’s dark cello, and the last gasp of light before the song truly opens and the tumult begins. The pace mauls slowly, with Burdette howling over the din and the riffs coming down in dark waves. The song, much like the record, feels like it is building blocks, with the melodies twisting and turning into new beasts, and the story cutting its way through. The final minutes go cold, with guitars trickling, the cello piercing again, and Burdette delivering a morbid dialog. But then the fury re-emerges, coloring the end with fire. “Ritual” is a quick, murky interlude, with strange chants and a chilling ambiance, and then it’s onto “Cleansing,” which starts with a doom-infested charge. There are hints of black metal in the melodies, and the drums beat down on the senses. Burdette’s growls are raw and violent, and the tempo pushes with conviction until it pulls back and lets a foggy atmosphere leak into the room. The serenity doesn’t last long, as cataclysmic melodies swell, the riffs pummel, and the track comes to a mud-caked ending.

“Rebirth” takes its time to establish itself, but once it does, the smothering doesn’t take long to set up and come right after you. The leads guitars churn and burn, the growls sound grim and monstrous, and another coverage of chilled winds blow in you give you a breath before everything boils over again, from the guitars, to the throaty howls, to the drums being decimated. The chaos finally comes to an end in a swampy, tar-thick path, and that rolls into “Eulogy.” This isn’t so much an interlude as it is a shorter plot point along the way, with a deathrock feel to the plodding melodies, the drums echoing, and Kent’s cello giving a haunting feeling. Finale “Collapse” should be clear thematically from its title, and it doesn’t disappoint with tales of bloodshed and panic. The riffs take over right away, as the song dominates every section of your mind, and it also delves into dirtier, grittier passages. Every element is poured on thick, with the guttural growls telling the story’s last act, and the music splattering blood, filth, and glorious terror, with the record closing rather suddenly, like a final death blow has been dealt.

Nightfell are on a pretty impressive roll, with two blistering full-length records in less than two years. “Darkness Evermore” builds on what the band created on “The Living Ever Mourn” and also gives us a terrifying vision of something that truly can come to pass. Pummeling music and a sobering apocalyptic visions make this record demolishingly satisfying and completely anxiety inducing all at the same time.

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