Are you, reader, afraid about the end of the world? Are you worried about the moment when the bombs, be they atomic or otherwise, start falling from the sky? Have you already given up on recycling, convinced that the apocalypse is right around the corner? Have you begun making underground preparations to ride out the aftermath that is sure to include looting, pillaging and more than a modicum of murder. If you answered “yes” to any of these queries Nightfell might just be the band you’ve been waiting your entire life for.
Nightfell is, as are most Burdette (Todd) projects, content to fly under the radar. There will be no singles, EPs, fancy videos or online merch site to pedal tactical riff packs, beer coozies or die-cut lapel pins. And it seems that Mr. Burdette (he insists on being called that) has found a match in Tim Call, a member of countless acts and an ex-member of the phenomenally underrated The Howling Wind (who casually and quietly released one of the best American black metal albums of the year back in early August (unfathomably independently should be added).
Where “The Swallowing of Flies” slowly coughs through its iterations of doom, the title track offers something of a nearly psychedelic take on doom without the flourishes, fancy pedals or drug-induced desert weekends. Lead lines call out from behind the main riffs as wave after wave of doom-laced death crashes upon your shores. There are moments, for example on “No Life Leaves Here,” that will encourage humming along. Moments on the album that belie the seriousness of the endeavor of death. Times that might find one bopping along casually to Nightfell’s absolutely dire and acrimonious predictions for the future.
What’s thrilling about A Sanity Deranged? For starters, the album is god damn catchy. Riffs lace themselves in between longing howls and wide open drum accompaniment. The album, as have their previous works, relies heavily on mood, ambiance and an unsettled feeling in the stomach akin to gastritis. If a picture is worth a thousand words, then a Nightfell track is worth ten thousand images—all of them bleak, stark and occupied by more sickness and disease than they are life. It’s this clever ability to implant images, moods and fear in the listener’s mind that make Nightfell the top of the heap when it comes to this style of death doom.
Nightfell has long been a winner. Every year in which they’ve released an album has seen them climbing onto year-end lists of those who appreciate art over online clout. Keeping true to their punk principles is potentially what keeps the band feeling so fresh—unencumbered by the need to listen and adjust to every fad, trend or scheme, Nightfell trudge on forever flying the banner of mourning and loss.
At a brisk thirty-five minutes, this is their shortest LP to date, yet it’s hardly their least provocative. Swinging rhythms and bludgeoning riffs combine to make A Sanity Deranged an experience worth the emotional cost of gazing into the darkness. There is calm and balance in the practice of giving up and acquiescing to the final fatal disease. The act of living will forever be marred by the darker side of things, e.g. grief, loss, failure, horrors beyond imagination, and the sooner humans realize, accept and face that fact the sooner humans will find peace.
(As Now) We Must Succumb