Review Summary: Purgatory in an mp3 file
Black Tongue has spent three long years silent. Their last project, The Unconquerable Dark
(2015) received decent reviews from the deathcore community, yet I couldn't find myself enjoying it. It seemed, quite honestly, rather generic. Then they went silent. No tours, little explanation, and no new tunes. Fast forward two years into 2017 and the four-piece from Hull, England revealed their new endeavor: Nadir
. The video interview promoting this album seemed promising enough, showcasing each members feelings toward the new project, and previous work. However, it was the short clips of blaring, down-tuned riffage that was exposed in between the interview that intrigued me the most.
That video was released in March of 2017. It took eight more months for us to understand what that video was leading towards. Enter Nadir
. This album is humongous. Humongous in terms of production, instrumentation, vocals, lyricism, and overarching theme (as this is a concept album). This album is phenomenal in every way, shape, and form, and here is why. It is an innovative album, and it works. This band is no longer strictly deathcore. There are actual riffs on this album, vicious screams, blast beats, and yes, breakdowns o-plenty. This album takes the paradigm of a deathcore album and throws in influences of doom metal, black metal, riff rock, and transforms that bland formula into an inspired, divergent, but none-the-less massive album.
Eddi Pickard's guitar work on this album is unrivaled in terms of creativity. With tracks tuned anywhere between drop C# and double drop B, the riffs he pulls of at such a low frequency are astounding. The little melodies shoved in between the barrage of subwoofer-melting riffage add polish to the sonic chaos in songs like "The Eternal Return to Ruin" and "Parting Soliloquy". Aaron Kitcher is a beast behind his drum kit, spending his time creating the canvas for Pickard's colorful guitar work. He uses blast beats sparingly while slowing down when necessary to lay down a solid, groovy beat for Pickard. Kitcher's drums are enormous, as well, which adds a layering depth to the already cavernous album (Check the toms towards the end of "Contrapasso"). Floating atop this ocean of audio madness is Alex Teyen, on vocals. What can I say about him" How do I mention the gurgling lows in "Ultima Necat", the shrieked highs in "Second Death", the crystallized cleans, and his infinitely large lungs in one review" Not to mention his lyricism, narrating the journey of a man (who killed himself) through purgatory, hell, and later, into the void. Oh well, it will have to wait for another review.
On a personal level, this is my album of the year, by far, although it does have a few flaws (hence the 4.5). Firstly, the cover of "A Dying God Coming Into Human Flesh" (originally by Celtic Frost) doesn't get me making much noise. It drags on for a few minutes, and before you realize it's started, it's over. Also, the ending track, "Crippled Before the Dwelling Place of God", is a lackluster ending to this epic, closing out fairly abruptly, and forces you to quit the sonic embrace cold turkey. Lastly, the bass on this record is not only unregistrable as well as unnecessary. The guitars are already low enough, the production pushes 60 Hz and 150 Hz to the max, thus the bass that is there is just overrun and unheard.
Black Tongue could be viewed as another immature, stagnant, run of the mill deathcore band by some. To each their own, right" However, if The Unconquerable Dark
was a caterpillar, Nadir
is a butterfly. The transformation and genuine growth displayed on this album are glaringly obvious, and if they choose to continue on this path, they will be a force to be reckoned with. If Hell had a soundtrack, this would be it.