Nightmarer – Deformity Adrift (Total Dissonance Worship)

Friday, 12th May 2023
Rating: 9 / 10

Dissonance and death metal go together like chocolate and peanut butter; a devilishly delicious combination that is impossible to get enough of, unless your taste buds/ear drums are grossly miscalculated. Thankfully, Officer Reeses isn’t here to spoil the party, and there have been a number of acts who have crafted their own differing takes. From Ulcerate being one of the first and most innovative, to stalwarts Mitochondrion, and newer acts like Aeviterne, Devenial Verdict, Dysgnostic, Nothingness, Viande, Ignominy, etc., all making their own distinctively crushing entries to envelope your soul with bleakness. One such group that may not have appeared on everyone’s radar yet is Nightmarer, of which needs to be remedied immediately.

Nightmarer have formulated their own concoction of the style, with their 2018 full-length Cacophony of Terror being a harrowing slice of weighty and thought provoking discordance. Returning for round two is Deformity Adrift, showcasing a band who have come together to create music that’s even more all consuming than previous efforts. Opening tracks “Brutalist Imperator” and “Baptismal Tomb” are overflowing with cacophonous, precisely layered riff explosions that engulf the senses, yet without a single iota of sloppiness. Every note is calculated to be as hard hitting and crushing as possible.

Entries such as “Throe of Illicit Withdrawal” and “Taufbefehl” change pace throughout, giving a dose of slower, cavernous rhythms that display a different angle of the sonic destruction. If the audio equivalent of being sucked into an endless void is one’s pleasure, “Suffering Beyond Death” builds with enormous tension, especially within wailing leads that scream in disparity. A slight Meshuggah-like twang brings a distinct heaviness to “Hammer of Desolation,” with the bass work being front and center in a pleasing way. If the devastation already endured hasn’t already left you in tatters, then prepare to be steamrolled by the carefully planned onslaught that is “Obliterated Shrine.” The closer leaves lasting impressions with booming riffs and calculated bellows, the latter courtesy of vocalist John Collett, who’s murky growl is a defining element in Nightmarer’s approach.

The overall aesthetic and sound profile can be described as thick and filthy, but with a fine attention to detail that allows every nuance to have its moment. Guitarists Simon Hawemann and Keith Merrow are a formative duo, melding a balance of hefty dissonance along with searing leads that cut deep. Deformity Adrift consistently sounds massive and imposing, matching the trepidation that the band’s style demands.

Nightmarer is a blunt force that suffocates with alarming ferocity, yet is complexly structured and focused in that every unnerving perception the listener experiences is purposeful. Think of the creativity of Altars, combined with the full on assault of Aeviterne, and you have a taste of what Nightmarer is bringing to the table. Deformity Adrift is menacing, poignant, and will not hesitate to toss you into the muck a few hundred times within its tight under 32 minute run time. The band’s fervent DIY attitude is also admirable, and their hard work and dedication has absolutely paid off in what will stand as one of the best death metal albums released this year.

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