The Night Watch
The Night Watch


4.0
excellent

Review

by Nash J. CONTRIBUTOR (39 Reviews)
July 10th, 2014 | 23 replies


Release Date: 04/23/2013 | Tracklist

Review Summary: The Night Watch is a dark, eccentric, and off-the-wall adventure that places the listener directly into the front seat of an emotional rollercoaster; complete with all the twists, turns, and thrills one would expect from such an exciting ride.

When it comes to making music, it is relatively easy to stick to one genre and follow all of its well-established principles. For that reason, I have always had a profound respect for Ulver, Mr. Bungle, maudlin of the Well, and other bands that play whatever they damn well please without ever sticking to one specific genre. With their self-titled debut, instrumental outfit The Night Watch have truly taken this concept to the extreme. Although impeccable instrumentation and ambitious songwriting were perhaps to be expected, given that the The Night Watch is a side project of Musk Ox members Nathanael Larochette and Evan Runge, the amount of musical eclecticism on their debut LP is nothing short of staggering. From black metal to jazz, The Night Watch have embarked on a quest to craft their own, one-of-a-kind sound from seamlessly combining a multitude of different genres. Although imperfect, the album nonetheless succeeds at being an ingenious exercise in musical experimentation.

The way in which The Night Watch unfolds is not too dissimilar from a movie; specifically a blockbuster action/romance flick. Though not necessarily a concept album in nature, each song further advances the album’s narrative-like structure by constantly shifting its sound to convey different emotions. However, unlike Musk Ox, which was mostly rooted in the genre of neofolk, the album’s sound and overall tone changes itself so often that each moment is enticingly unpredictable. The acoustic guitar at the start of “In the Beginning” may open the album softly, but is quickly overtaken by thundering drumbeats and heavy riffage. A soothing violin countermelody is introduced shortly after, and from then on the track continuously switches back and forth from lighthearted folk music to violent thrash. Each track that follows has a completely unique and unpredictable structure; with dark, jazzy arrangements such as “The Great Escape” and “Don’t Creep” recalling the likes of James Bond movies, and other songs such as “The Minstrel and the King” and “Apocalypse Beach” having a more romantic, neoclassic focus. Standout track “War Whales” serves as a testament to the band’s incredibly creativity songwriting. “War Whales” is an epic, sprawling soundscape, complete with intense doom metal riffs and mournful violin melodies. The dark atmosphere of the song is full of rage and underlying sadness, making the uplifting acoustic passages scattered throughout seem the all the more intense. Like the rest of The Night Watch, “War Whales” grabs the listener’s attention and refuses to ever let it go with dynamic, cinematic soundscapes.

Although The Night Watch’s ambitious experimentation serves them quite well for the most part, the occurrence of mid-song genre changes has a tendency to seem contrived. This isn’t to say that the album ever loses grasp of its overall vision; merely, the transitions between the different styles of music often cause a song to seem momentarily unfocused. With that being said, however, the occasionally unnecessary experimentation rarely ever detracts from the music at hand, due largely in part to the band’s, as previously stated, superb instrumentation. While every band member puts forth a commendable effort on The Night Watch, Runge’s violin playing is particularly impressive. Throughout the album, the violin melodies are always in the forefront, gracefully weaving their way through the darkest of riffs in order to tell its own story. Most interesting of all, the stories told and emotions conveyed by the violin are always seemingly different than that of the other instruments, but never for a moment does the violin seem unfitting with the rest of the song. In a more conventional band, vocals would likely replace the violin’s role of standing above all else, harmonizing with each melody and allowing certain motifs to carry over from song-to-song.

Perhaps the strangest and most notable quality about The Night Watch is how accessible the release is as a whole. For an album with so much variety and manic experimentation, The Night Watch always remains a thoroughly enjoyable album that should prove to be appealing to every musical demographic. While its sound is all of its own, there is a certain familiarity at the heart of each song. The same could be said for Musk Ox’s newest release, Woodfall, but in an entirely different way. Woodfall was focused, elegant, and although quite ambitious, rather straightforward in its songwriting. The Night Watch, on the other hand, is a dark, eccentric, and off-the-wall adventure that places the listener directly into the front seat of an emotional roller coaster; complete with all the twists, turns, and thrills one would expect from such an exciting ride. And in the end, as long as your seat belt is buckled and both your hands and feet remain inside the vehicle at all times, it’s a ride that is so unforgettable and rewarding that will you find yourself getting back in line over and over again.



Recent reviews by this author
Myrkur MyrkurxSPONGEXCOREx How Tough Are Yah?
Dead Can Dance Into the LabyrinthSaor Aura
The Phantom Band Strange FriendMusk Ox Woodfall
user ratings (8)
Chart.
3.8
excellent

Comments:Add a Comment 
Judio!
Contributing Reviewer
July 10th 2014


5809 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

Wrote this review at the request of Musk Ox, so hopefully I did this album justice. It really is an
awesome listen and I can't recommend it enough.

Here's a link to stream this bad boy:
http://thenightwatch.bandcamp.com

Digging: Moonsorrow - V: Havitetty

Departures
July 10th 2014


879 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

I've seen them play three times in Ottawa. They're even better live and are only held back by the fact that their members are still finishing university.

Voivod
Staff Reviewer
July 10th 2014


6099 Comments


Jamming the album right now, it reminded me of The Answer Machine? from Skyclad, due to the use of the violin.

Digging: The Sabbathian - Ritual Rites

DrGonzo1937
July 10th 2014


5663 Comments


This sounds very interesting, will check out now.

Good review.

Judio!
Contributing Reviewer
July 10th 2014


5809 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

Hope you dig Voivod. Never heard of The Answer Machine? before but if it's anything like this I'm totally gonna check it out.
And thanks Dr. Gonzo1937.

DrGonzo1937
July 10th 2014


5663 Comments


It's sounding great so far.

ExplosiveOranges
July 10th 2014


2624 Comments


Hot damn, Judio! You've been reviewing like a Mofo over the past few weeks. This seems good, though, so I'll give it a listen.

Digging: Francis Harris - Minutes of Sleep

laughingman22
July 10th 2014


1671 Comments


I give you a spiritual pos

Digging: Emma Ruth Rundle - Some Heavy Ocean

BMDrummer
July 10th 2014


7159 Comments


This sounds awesome, gonna check sometime soon. Spiritual pos

Digging: Shellac - Dude Incredible

Judio!
Contributing Reviewer
July 10th 2014


5809 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

Thanks guys! It is so worth checking, I'm surprised it didn't get that much attention last year to be honest.

Atari
Contributing Reviewer
July 10th 2014


19756 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

dude this review kicks ass man, nice job.

one small thing to fix:

"In a more conventional band, vocals would like replace " (likely ;)

This was definitely cool on the first listen, but didn't hit me the way musk ox did when i first heard it. Gonna have to jam again i'm really stoked that it's the same dudes from musk ox on this project. Funny enough, I don't think it sounds similar at all as you mentioned in the review.

Digging: Spectral Lore - III

Atari
Contributing Reviewer
July 10th 2014


19756 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

lol i went to pos the review but forgot i CAN'T anymore! so imaginary pos my friend

Judio!
Contributing Reviewer
July 10th 2014


5809 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

Thanks Atari! And nice catch, will edit that out in one minute.

Kris.
July 10th 2014


12345 Comments


NIGHT GATHERS AND NOW MY WATCH BEGINS

CaptainDooRight
July 10th 2014


29131 Comments


That was fats my friend. I enjoyed some elements here but I had trouble emotionally connecting with it because it sounds to uppity and ideas quickly change while changing emotions quickly too. I've only listened to 5 tracks so far so my thoughts are most likely inconclusive though. Great write up tho!

Digging: Kangding Ray - Solens Arc

Judio!
Contributing Reviewer
July 10th 2014


5809 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

Thanks Cap! I agree that the album's emotional changes are a bit too frequent and sometimes seem random, but as a
whole I think the album is just so fun that I rarely really felt disconnected emotionally.

Atari
Contributing Reviewer
July 10th 2014


19756 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

courts of the east makes me want to dance

TayBad
July 10th 2014


33 Comments


Another very good review. Nicely done sir. Just one question though. Why was Maudlin of the Well not capitalized?

Judio!
Contributing Reviewer
July 10th 2014


5809 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

For some reason, maudlin of the Well chooses not to capitalize the first letter of their band nice. Just some weird stylistic choice I guess.

Calc
July 10th 2014


12190 Comments


sounds like a less crazy DSO without the opera vocals.

Digging: Jizue - Shiori



You have to be logged in to post a comment. Login | Create a Profile





FAQ // STAFF & CONTRIBUTORS // SITE FORUM // CONTACT US

Bands: A B C D E F G H I J K L M N O P Q R S T U V W X Y Z


Site Copyright 2005-2014 Sputnikmusic.com
All Album Reviews Displayed With Permission of Authors | Privacy Policy