Originally written by Ian Chainey
Madrid’s Nigromante has been playing trad tarot for ten years, yet just released its debut LP Black Magic Night. In a minute, you know the reason why. Opener “Heavy Metal Age,” with its middle-age paunch and NWOBHM-y/Riot-y da-da-da-da-da Tommy Gun riff, isn’t crying out to be laid down on tape since, well, it’s not going to spoil. Dust doesn’t decay. Strike while the iron is hot? This hunk of steel hasn’t been warm for three decades. And, in a way, that’s the appeal: Nigromante’s trio ably nail the aesthetics of 1980 without any futuristic flares-ups or anachronisms. “Saturnalia of Blood,” the highlight of the nine song set, casts a clever spell to fool your senses, sounding like it could’ve influenced Metallica‘s “Seek and Destroy” instead of the other way around. That’s cool, that the outfit can clack worn flint together and still see sparks. It’s why this ended up on Shadow Kingdom, a label respected for its impeccable taste in older vintages. But, for Black Magic Night to truly ignite, to justify your Euros, it needs to toss 20s over-and-over-and-over again. Worse, even if it did roll like an on-fire Ice Cube, it would only be ahead by a schnoz hair versus the thousands of artists who have already achieved Nigromante’s absolute ceiling. Because, they aren’t only running a race against their cohorts. Nope, it’s against every racer in recorded history. So, in that light, their appeal is also their curse. To be more than a fun Saturday night ticket, to transcend the fate of the monotone throwback, to be hugged in your CD rack by Nightwish (don’t lie) and Nile, they need to be really, really, really good. Buyer’s Guide verdict? They’re kinda okay. Now ask yourself: Is that good enough?
Compliments to take out the sting: Nigromante is fun. Again, this would be a blast banging around any bar acting as a workday finish line. The riffs bounce the right way, fully inflated. A few choruses will inspire car-karaoke harmonies between A.M.’s gruff bray, your squeak, and the wind. The Spanish tracks might even spur on a Duolingo binge. (Look! We have the same TLD! That is neat!) It’s a gas.
However, unlike the fossil fuel, you don’t have to hunt the planet for reserves of this stuff. The supply is inexhaustible. That makes the recommendation tricky: The people who will receive the most mileage out of Black Magic Night already own Black Magic Night many times over. Nothing about it is unique. Heck, you could fly a kite near Zeus V and get zapped with a similarly snug fit. Hey, the two are only separated by, ehhh, 27 years and a couple hours via the Madrid to Barca high speed rail line. That’s the thing: Given the choice between Nigromante and Zeus, you probably would pick the elder. Outta respect? Sorta. It’s a psychological thing. Those that came before win that battle more often than not. Why? We simply exhibit greater interest in those succeeding with fewer tools. Riot was mixing, like, berries to expand its palette. Nigromante has Photoshop.
That said, time is actually Nigromante’s best bud. For one, and this is a BIG one, it’s in print. Nevertheless, let’s think tomorrow rather than today: After another ten years, this will become a “heavy metal album” instead of a “heavy metal album released this year.” At that point, the complaints above will read as quaint. Myopic. Dumb. Chronos we ain’t, which brings up another wrinkle: Young bucks owning itty-bitty racks might butt Black Magic Night first, thus creating a far different relationship/association with primacy. After all, it has a higher chance of being available. (Plus, until you’re 30, recency bias is a hilarious, perverse bastard.) Perhaps, then, it was smart to plop this out in the market. Maybe they’re in it for the long-long-long game. It’s…also conceivable they recorded an album because they have the free will to do such a thing without some pedantic, word-hyphenating monster wondering what all of this means for the kids, maaaaaaaaaaan. Whatever. When researching an answer, you’ll jam the related Steel Horse, a band doing trad with a little more gusto. Suddenly, you can hear Nigromante free-falling down your wish list. Though, kindly consider: If you want to have fun now, you got it here. That, and at a better price than OOP diamonds. Trust your ears and do what you need to do.