Nightbringer – Ego Dominus Tuus (Season of Mist)

Wednesday, 8th October 2014
Rating: 9.5/10

Goddamn. As the extremely dense layers and sheer girth of Nightbringer and their newest opus Ego Dominus Tuus did its best to sink in on the initial listen, this is often all that came to mind in response to what I heard. Symphonic black metal that’s overwhelming at most turns and haunting at others, having no previous experience with the band often meant I was left picking my proverbial jaw up off the floor with the music that washed over me. Beholden to chasing the gnawing abyss as prey rather than the fractured madness that results from its gaze, Ego Dominus Tuus is a work that goes where few dare tread and even fewer succeed.

Obligatory intro aside, the gates are shattered and the onslaught begins with “Et Nox Illuminatio Mea In Deliciis Meis”, a 9 minute tour of old world black metal aesthetics but at an intensity few have ever successfully tried to capture. The keys/synths/whatever hang as a key structure in the background, a filament of madness or panic driving the larger body of music forward. And again, goddamn when it hits. Follow-up “Latern of Eden’s Night” is another 9+ minute foray into the fury of immolated worlds and, honestly, may be the point that breaks some listeners as the two together can be exhausting. The effect is tremendous.

Dynamics are not lost as quieter, if no less traumatizing, moments of restraint seep in, both as sections of larger bodies “Where Fire Never Dreamt of Man” or as a whole and separate work on its own in “Salvation Is The Son Of The Leviathan”. The foremost standout for this listener comes in “The Witchfires of Tubal-Qayin”, which alternates from hyper-paced to an almost crawl before an enflamed buildup gives way to a devastating climax/crescendo, exhausting every time its heard.

Ego Dominus Tuus is not for the faint hearted or the easily distracted. At 71 minutes it’s a burly release that requires a lot of time and attention to legitimately soak in its many voices. For within those many voices are the exhausting themes of terror, isolation, and often times relentless panic, the impossible for some and the inevitable for others. No matter your camp, Nightbringer has forged one of the premier metal (black or otherwise) releases of the year.

And goddamn that album cover.

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