Review Summary: Acoustic Chaos
Reigning from the depths of YouTube, Nik Nocturnal shines through as one of the most technically talented and inclined guitarist of the modern day YouTube guitarist era. Known for his speedy ability to cover songs by ear in a matter of hours after release as well as his “Monday Meme” guitar videos, Nik Nocturnal has established himself as one of the best of the bunch. Furthermore, Nik reaches further than simply videos on YouTube as he ventures into the realms of songwriting and composition. His previous release, Undying Shadow
, showcases his ability to masterfully create enjoyable technical, progressive djent while utilizing the aspect of a variety of guest vocalists. However, on Reflection
, Nik takes a step back and takes a different approach. As if looking into a reversed mirror, Nik abandons all forms of distortion and electric guitar and relies upon the classic acoustic to produce an EP. Although the driving force of his previous album is now abolished here, Nik still manages to create hard hitting riffs and atmospheric phrasing.
From the introduction of “Desolate”, Nik Nocturnal sets the tone of the album with full acoustics, laying the foundation for the rest of the album with melodic harmonies. Utilizing the acoustic guitar’s ability to create clean chords, each song holds the spotlight for atmospheric choruses with scaling imitating makeshift vocals overlaying the melody. Furthermore, Nik’s ability to arpeggiate the chords with immense resonance allows for beautiful, serene moments spread throughout the EP. However, when not focusing on the calm, Nik Nocturnal doesn’t hold back on the calamity. As displayed in “Archaic,” he performs riffs of great technicality you’d normally hear on an electric, yet plays it so eloquently that instead of being entirely muffled, what comes forth is an oddly clear and clean aggression. Mixing metalcore, tech death, progressive, and djent all together, Reflection
holds a wide variety of influence and sound that makes for a unique acoustic experience. Complementing each track, acoustic solos fill the void with shredding and melodic phrasing, often relying upon the Phyrgian Dominant scale to support the aforementioned riffs. Although the melodies of such solos often complement the songs, the faster shredding moments fail to contribute the same clean sound as the notes don’t quite reach that same viable resonance.
Interestingly, as stated above, the EP only focuses on the use of acoustics, eliminating the necessity of any other instrument. This proves to be both a beneficial attribute as well as a negative aspect. Nik Nocturnal shows his immense talents to be able to utilize only upon the use of an acoustic guitar to create melody, aggression, as well as atmosphere through a singular instrument, which is quite an impressive achievement. However, the lack of other instruments, in particular percussion, fails to fully captivate and encapsulate the full sound of an acoustic styled album. At times, drums feel almost necessary to complete the aggressive stylings found within.
holds to be a strong acoustic EP effort, with a unique take on the utility of acoustics with heavy riffing. With this EP, Nik Nocturnal shows his true talent and ability to compose beautifully chaotic music with the use of an instrument generally associated with relaxation and calmness. Despite the occasional flaw here and there, Reflection
is the perfect showcase of Nik Nocturnal’s versatility and skill.