Symbol of Domination
7/16/2016 - Review by: Greg Watson
Layers and depth to songs that are just high quality tracks
Ahhhhh.....Nihilistinen Barbaarisuus, how I love this band! Those of you that patrol and frequent our site know that I covered the band's full length album "The Child Must Die" from 2015 and was completely enamored with it. Well friends now it's 2016 and while it's not a full album, I have a new EP in my hand from NB. I've spent a lot of time with this 4 song gem to really dive in to the music, the lyrics and get a really good feel for it before putting my thoughts into words. This is probably the longest I've taken to put together a review on anything, let alone a 4 song EP. The reasoning for that is due to the fact that there is a good bit going on with these 4 songs and I wanted to really make sure to get the full feel for each track.
Actually, a bit of history on Nihilistinen Barbaarisuus first. Formed in 2012 in Philadelphia by co-founders Manuel Rodriguez and American/Finnish dual citizen Mika Mage. The band have put out several EP's and two full length albums and each one has gradually evolved from the prior release. Currently, Mage is the only remaining original member and is the driving force behind the EP, allowing his influences and style to really take over.
The "Madness Incarnate" EP starts out with "Traversing the Frozen North" and you hear the treading of feet through cold, crunchy snow that are moving at a methodical pace, marching towards some unknown destination. As the footsteps fade, this really great swirling guitar riff comes in and really harkens back to the heyday of 90's era black metal, as do the drums that come in with this riff. They aren't quite lo-fi but they aren't high quality and it just has this warm, cozy feeling of familiarity about it that lets you know you are getting into something good here. Guest vocalist Gary Hadden of Lesch-Nyhan contributes wonderfully grim and cold vocals to this track, really making it feel like a nod to the classic black metal while still putting a modern spin on the sound with the quality being somewhat above the really raw and lo-fi recordings of that time period.
"Madness Incarnate" follows and features ex-Nihilistinen Barbaarisuus and current Omeals vocalist Joel Robert Thompson lending his talents to the song. The intro is a very subdued, ambient guitar and bass line that is quickly replaced by a really grungy, doomy riff that has some real sludge to it. Thompson's vocals have that grit and grime that really suits this song and was the perfect choice to handle the vocals on this track. As the song progresses, the drums begin to have this sort of speedy meandering to them that really lends a bit of a progressive to the song before things pick up the pace a little more in the last 40 seconds of the song with the guitar work really speeding up and what sounds like a synthesizer coming in before a little melody is thrown in for good measure. Robertson's vocals are my favorite of the bunch so far on this track. "Virgin Essence" is up next and features James Dorton of the famed Black Crown Initiate handling vocals. This one has a slight black metal feel but also has some power metal like riffing going on along with this really militaristic drum cadence layered underneath. That drum beat plus the riff styling gives the song a more metered feel and gives it some driving rhythm that really melds well with Dorton's rasped and grating vocals. The music on this track is so infectious that I constantly found my hand either playing air guitar or tapping rhythmically on my desk or steering wheel while it was playing. Near the end of the track, it gets a sort of doom-type feel to it with the main riff being somewhat slowed down and ground out.
"Immaculate Deconception" follows and is a how-to for constructing a really quality black metal track tinged with some old school death metal. Hadden once again takes the vocal reins and delivers his frigid vocals and some really wicked spoken word during a really ambient and somewhat progressive breakdown at about the 1:15 mark of the track. But the pace really picks right back up and is probably the most aggressive track on the album by far, with borderline blast beats. What really makes this song intriguing though are the lush synthesizer pieces that just barely make an appearance before fading into the background again. This element lends a bit of depth and mystery to the track while still keeping that black metal/aggressive feel to it. "Comte-Sponville" wraps the album up and is an acoustic instrumental. A bit of an odd way for the album to end for me but it is nonetheless pretty solid. Mage's playing on this has a very folksy/country feel to it and the drumming is just a good, solid cadence for the guitar to work around. I would have liked to have seen this inserted in the middle to break up the four tracks with vocals rather than placed at the end as I feel it kind ends the album on a bit of a slow note. That being said though, "Madness Incarnate" is another quality release from Nihilistinen Barbaarisuus, a band who is definitely on the way to making themselves well known to many metal heads worldwide.
What is apparent on this release is that Mage having sole creative license and musical control really flexes his musical chops and sprinkles in some other genres to really help propel this album to a different soundscape than what the previous releases have been. While you still have your traditional black metal sound throughout most of it, the progressive, doom and even power metal elements interspersed throughout add some layers and depth to songs that are just high quality tracks. I thoroughly enjoyed immersing myself in this EP and couldn't be happier for NB with the way this turned out. All this does though is make me want to have another full-length coming soon and I know that it might be a while for that. So until then, I'll fall under the spell of their prior releases as well as this little gem and hope that I can endure the "Madness Incarnate" that will manifest itself as I wait for another release by this brilliant band.
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