PICK OF THE WEEK: Nightbringer’s esoteric black metal contorts, damages mind on ‘Terra Damnata’

There is a special place for bands that don’t simply give you album experiences but also add something transcendent to their work. It’s not just a matter of being overwhelmed by their music, and the decibolic madness contained within. It’s also a gateway to something else that isn’t attainable by any other means, no matter how far your imagination may stretch.

Colorado-based black metal wanderers Nightbringer never just release a collection of songs. Their strange, esoteric ways are woven into the fabric of their music, and playing one of their records sometimes makes it seem like you’re on the doorstep to a convulsion. Their new opus “Terra Damnata” is another bizarre trip down a wormhole toward a plane of existence and understanding you didn’t know was possible. Each of their five records provide a sort of atmospheric, out-of-control adventure you can’t control or even possibly predict. It has been that way since their 2008 debut “Death and the Black Work” and continued to bleed into their last album “Ego Dominus Tuus” in 2014. On this record, the band—vocalist/guitarist Naas Alcameth, guitarist VJS, bassist Norgaath, drummer Menthor, guitarist/vocalist Ophis, vocalist ar Ra’d al Iblis—get more symphonic and layered, always bludgeoning you but keeping your head so full of mysticism, you cannot help but be entranced.

“As Wolves Amongst Ruins” starts us in the midst of absolute chaos as guitars contort and rain down, and maniacal howls remind you of the rare atmosphere in which you’re encased. Strange bouts of speaking and bizarre melodies continue the push, while eerie keys take over and help the track wash away. “Misrule” unleashes tornadic riffs, mad blasts, and crazed shrieks, leading into a dizzying pace and a cloud of fury that hangs in the air. Later, the growls spin your heart and mind as the song settles into its resting place. “Midnight’s Crown” once again puts the room at a spin, with humid ambiance and speedy playing jostling your nerve endings. Strange warbling and heavy synth waves increase the drama, while the music spirals toward the ground, and a huge symphonic finish adds strange texture. “Of the Key and Crossed Bones” is delirious and savage right off the bat, as the tempo drubs unforgivingly, and the drums punish relentlessly. Monstrous vocals mix with enrapturing melodies, causing the pace to sicken and enthrall equally before mystical final moments drag everything back into the fog.

“Let Silence Be His Sacred Name” has keys dripping like cold rain before total eruption sends shrapnel flying. The track binds up your guts with its horrific twisting and turning before the band settles into a nasty thrash groove. The storming only continues from there, as violent outbursts charge hard before atmospheric pressure subsides, and keys blur out the picture. “Inheritor of a Dying World” sets the music to a boil, as wails of, “Inherit the world of dust!” jars the mind. The music goes cold for a stretch before the band starts landing heavy punches again, sprawling and ripping, as calls of, “There is no solace,” only adding to the uneasiness before everything subsides. “The Lamp of Inverse Light” has more off-kilter tones and a really bizarre set of surroundings, almost like you’ve entered an even higher level of Nightbringer. Ghostly speaking mixes in with the spiritual chaos, setting the stage for closer “Serpent Sun.” Wrenching guitars and crushing vocals make their way toward you before terrible shrieks and vicious bursts up the ante of terror. The drums burst and the riffs twist into a tight ball, while horrific growls send the final messages before the track ends abruptly.

Five albums in, and Nightbringer continue to be one of the most inventive, spiritually mysterious bands in all black metal, and you need no further proof than “Terra Damnata.” Their dark works only grow stranger and more violent as time goes on, and their mission gets even tougher to figure out completely. That’s part of the wonder in taking on this band, since they know no boundaries physically nor mentally and leave no hints as to where their mission will take them next.

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To buy the album (North America), go here: https://shopusa.season-of-mist.com/

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For more on the label, go here: http://www.season-of-mist.com/