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Nightbringer: Hierophany of the Open Grave

Dark, heavy and dissonant, Hierophany of the Open Grave by American blackmetallers Nightbringer combines the frantic dissonant tremolo riffage of raw black metal with the heavier feel of doom metal although generally, this albums seems to me to be mostly on the heavy side.

Thus the music constantly moves from heavy doom-ladden passages to blastbeat-and-tremolo ones, and this in itself can make for a pretty intense musical experience, but that is not enough for Nightbringer. In a somewhat avant-garde fashion, they make good use of multiple (at least two) guitar tracks such that the two main guitars rarely play exactly the same pattern. For example, while one guitar is engaged in a simple tremolo pattern, the other plays oddly melodic droming notes while the drums blast away. Actually, the band often combine tremolo riffing wit heavy drumming, or droning riffage with blastbeating, and sometimes everything at the same time. As you can imagine, this use of guitars generate a very intense feel when you listen to the album, which is only amplified by the use of dissonant chords and harmonies and, at times, multiply overlaid snarled and growled vocals.

Unlike much other post 90s black metal where repetition of a few figures, so as to invoke a sort of trance in the listener, is a central element, Nightbringer manage to bring more dynamism and variation into their music, and they also make use of instrumentation beyond the traitional bass-guitars-drums line up every now and then, such as the bizarrely melodic piano pattern towards the end of 'The Gnosis of Inhumation', the chruch organ in the beginning of 'The Angel of Smokeless Fire' and the epic male choirs in 'Lucifer Tristmegesus' and the acoustic intros that appear in some of the tracks consequently, there is also a sort of dark and twisted epicness to some of the music on this album. Despite the dynamism of the individual tunes, the album tends to become monotone overall, which means that the potential for a sense of trance is still there.

Hierophany of the Open Grave is an intense musical experience and probably not suited for the black metal noob, but if you are and experienced listener of black metal or similar dark music and you are looking for a challenging and somewhat unpleasant, yet oddly melodic, listen, then you should check out this release by Nightbringer.

Track Listing:
1. Rite of the Slaying Tongue
2. Eater of the Black Lead
3. Psychagogoi
4. Lucifer Trismegistus
5. The Gnosis of Inhumation
6. The Angel of Smokeless Fire
7. Dreaming Above the Sepulcher
8. Via Tortuosa
9. Old Night

Added: November 12th 2011
Reviewer: Kim Jensen
Related Link: Band MySpace Page
Hits: 3138
Language: english

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Nightbringer: Hierophany of the Open Grave
Posted by Jeff B, SoT Staff Writer on 2011-11-12 19:12:17
My Score:

Hierophany of the Open Grave is a dark, mystical, and simply evil venture into the world of modern black metal. Fast tremolo-picked guitars, dissonant soundscapes, a twisted sense of melody, and trance-inducing atmospheres are what Nightbringer create with this effort; it's pretty safe to say that Hierophany of the Open Grave's challenging and dense musical bombast is not for those without a firm background in black metal music. The long and brutally frightening compositions can take a little while to warm up to, but I have a difficult time calling this effort anything but successful.

Nightbringer plays a style of black metal that's firmly rooted in the early Norwegian scene - storming blast beats and tremolo picked riffs are found in abundance on this album. This band is far from unoriginal, though, and there are quite a few twists that make Nightbringer stand out from your average black metal act. For one, they certainly make use of dissonant and challenging riff patterns (Blut Aus Nord would be an obvious point of reference here), as well as an eery sense of melody - the occasional piano or organ part really adds a chilling atmosphere to the music. I wish the band would've expanded a bit more upon this twisted melodic side; at over an hour in length, Hierophany of the Open Grave can be a bit too one-dimensional and dense to sit through in one listen. Music this challenging can become slightly monotonous when played for a long duration of time, and a few more small hooks to grab onto may have helped increase the memorability of this effort.

Still, there's no denying that this is an hour of quality black metal music, and I find myself being immersed in Hierophany of the Open Grave's bleak atmosphere multiple times throughout its duration. The music has a rather hypnotic effect, and this is probably best experienced with a nice pair of headphones on a cold evening. After all, the production is definitely worth enjoying through a pair of good speakers or headphones. While still raw and powerful, the production has just the right level of polish to sound professional and commanding. A production like this suits the music perfectly.

While not faultless, Hierophany of the Open Grave is an impressive work from Nightbringer that should satisfy fans of old school black metal with a few unique twists. I've had a pretty great time listening to this album, and I'd say a 3.5 star rating is well-deserved. Just be warned - this is not at all for the faint of heart.

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