Nightbearer – Ghosts of a Darkness to Come (Testimony Records)Wednesday, 22nd June 2022
Fruitful times for OSDM these days – almost like clockwork passing the torch down from forefathers to newcomers, people are cranking out straightforward riffs embellished with HM-2 pedal urgency, summoning growls from the grave while deep bass and pounding drums galvanize the troops. German act Nightbearer has evolved from its two-man start with Dominik Hellmuth and Michael Torka into a full five-piece outfit for the second album Ghosts of a Darkness to Come – generating a solid old school foundation for death, accenting the proceedings with occasional glimpses of doom or blackened elements.
You’ll often get interesting contrasts that work effectively in multiple levels part to part – be it blackened screams against a more melodic death riff during the opening sequences of “A Shadowspawn” or blasting drums against tremolo runs shifting gears into a mid-tempo groove with a tasteful, harmony-filled lead break with “A Conquest in Blood”. Specific riff combinations and shifts in heaviness/aggression reach back to the Dismember/Grave eras of the 90’s – most will be headbanging in unison to the atmosphere within “Blood and Bloody Ashes”, while calmer touches against savage, distant screams appear in the title track – at 7:20 the longest cut for the record, delivering doomy chord combinations that grab intensity over the course of the arrangement. Drawing lyrical inspiration from the Robert Jordan The Wheel of Time high fantasy book series probably differs from what would be expected in the death realm, yet the mythology and religious / metaphysical concepts provide weighty words to devour. The bone chilling duality of ripping growls and paint-melting screams out of Michael Torka ensures lasting memories for all who appreciate the death genre – unafraid to go for the gusto on both fronts all the way to the “Doom, Death, and Desolation” bonus track at the finale.
While nothing groundbreaking or earth shattering in terms of originality, Ghosts of a Darkness to Come gets the blood boiling and should satisfy many OSDM followers who want a bit of that blackened/doom twist.