Review Summary: Welcome back the metal of the early 1990s
Fun fact: Nykta
’s press release ended with the question "Many will embark on its path...but where will you end up?" The answer seems to be an unequivocal "back in time," as the album provides us a perfect example of a band stuck in the past. The album sounds like it’s straight from the early 1990s (and influenced by the metal of the '80s), but not in a nostalgic kind of way – it literally sounds like it was composed and (to a lesser extent) recorded then. Whether that sounds appealing or not will already determine if one can find enjoyment in it. Even though there is a multitude of influences at play in the songwriting department, the core elements of Nykta
sound dated. It’s a shame really, because under the tired rhythm riffs, unimaginative black-thrash and off-kilter vocals, some adequate arrangements and semi-successful genre-hopping can be found, but they are not enough to salvage what is otherwise an album that just doesn’t excite in 2013. That doesn’t mean Nykta
is a bad record – the material is far from cringe worthy and compositionally it has its moments – but the time when this kind of metal (Zemial is heavily influenced by the first wave of black metal as well as early thrash metal) took the world by storm is long gone: the better works from that era have deservedly survived in the collective memory of metalheads around the globe and already claimed their rightful place in metal history. Zemial is a little late to the party with Nykta
, which doesn’t exactly light the world on fire anyhow, regardless of its progressive leanings. Like that, it’s somewhat comparable to a meal at a restaurant that you couldn’t finish and took home: it was damn tasty when it was hot and fresh right in front of you, but the remnants that you intend to eat later on just won’t taste the same anymore.
The moments when Nykta
does catch flight come when the atmospheric side, rather than the black-thrash metal, is emphasized. The album’s best track is undoubtedly "In The Arms of Hades" which, driven by a sentimental candle-lit atmosphere, manages to successfully take the listener back about twenty to thirty years through enchanting leadwork, while the delicate, five-minute instrumental "The Small" also conjures up pleasant images. "Pharos" (the album’s longest-running track) on its part is a perfect example of an overkill, though. It starts out well enough, but runs out of steam quickly as its theatrical antics fail to amuse and the atmosphere isn’t as gripping as on "In The Arms of Hades." There are a few more gratifying sections to be found on the album, but in general it sounds too obsolete. I'm all for throwback and vintage records, but to get them right bands must simultaneously be able to exhibit what was great about past music while putting their own stamp on it, not sound like left-behind varlets. Furthermore, I find no artistic value in the closing track "Out Of The Cage – (3:33 for Drumset and Mechanical)," which is inspired by John Cage’s composition "4:33." It’s obvious what Zemial’s Archon Vorskaath wanted to achieve when he said "a track of that kind - meant to make people think - might elicit interesting responses," but the idea of using it as the final track was doomed from the start and the song would’ve worked only in the middle of the album, if at all. As a closer it is pretty much filler. I feel there’s no need for another 4 minutes and 33 seconds of almost utter silence masquerading as a track at the end of this (or, for that sake, any) album – if I wish to contemplate over the record I just heard, I can just refrain from putting on anything new.
isn’t a bad work of art per se and its disposition towards including psychedelic atmospheres every now and then is a welcome sight – without them the album would sound horribly arid. Yet, while some very select fans of the metal of yore may find it to be a decent record, embracing its warm analog production and archaic black-thrash, for these ears Nykta
just isn’t special enough. The galloping guitars sound stale and the songs in general should’ve been more incisive. The album is intended as half-part homage to metal of the past, half-part statement of progression, but it’s not instrumentally commanding nor fresh enough to convincingly pull off either. As such, the chances of it finding wide-range recognition in the underground are slim. "In The Arms of Hades" makes for a decent playlist track, but the rest of Nykta
is ultimately forgettable.