[Cover artwork by Chris Kiesling / Misanthropic-Art]
“No fun, no core, no mosh, no trends”: it’s basically the first line of the black metal rulebook as decreed by Øystein “Eur Fave Onymous” Aarseth and Deathlike Silence Productions. But ooohhh yeeeeaaaah, black metal loves to defy the rules, so it has, of course, long since pounded out the edges to fabricate wares that fit most any scabbard, including death, thrash, avant-garde, punk, doom, indie, etcetera ad infinitum. (Much to the chagrin of the purists out there, of which there are flocks and legions and armies and hordes.)
Point to most any corner of these United States of Isolation if you’re looking to hurl blame at the most flagrant offenders of black metal’s rigorous, old-school mandates, but one of the regions responsible for a significant number of violators that are (or were) actually quite brilliant is the Bay Area of California. Bands such as Ludicra, Weakling, Bosse-de-Nage and Saros have long since done the legwork for setting the foundation, and a new entity such as Nite delivers the goods to the point where one could just as easily comment, “Hey, now, waitjustadangminute………. This isn’t really black metal at all!”
And you know what? It ain’t… Except that it still kinda is. The overall vibe throughout Darkness Silence Mirror Flame absolutely bleeds sinfulness, and vocalist ( / guitarist) Van Labrakis (Satan’s Wrath) utilizes the sort of poisonous rasp you’d anticipate crawling straight from a rack at Helvete. Musically, however, Nite employs an almost obscenely melodic take on the brand of (relatively) recently revised traditional metal once peddled by In Solitude (2013’s Sister), and when things slow down and get even more gothy—“Lucifer,” for example—the comparisons to Idle Hands is also just.
The melody stacked to the rafters here, though—the nearly endless barrage of hugely lifting leads and all the guitarly radiance delivered by both Labrakis and Scott Hoffman (High Spirits)—is absolutely Darkness Silence Mirror Flame’s pinnacle highlight. And when combined with the forceful bounce behind the drumming of Patrick Crawford (Serpents of Dawn, Older Sun) and bass-play of Bryan Coons (Older Sun), you’ve got a golden ticket for anyone who’s ever wondered what might happen if a band like Vreid ever ploughed head-on into The Devil’s Blood and became channelled through a forgotten NWOBHM band.
Could a couple songs benefit from a bit of trimming? Okay, sure—if you happen to have a shorter attention span. But the bottom line is this: Nite’s debut is a total banger that puts the bacon (or Seitan Bacon, for you Seitanists) on the table, so anyone still interested in having fun, moshing and not giving a flip about whether or not something sounds “trendy” should head to the front of the line.
• Van Labrakis – guitar / vocals
• Scott Hoffman – guitar
• Patrick Crawford – drums
• Bryan Coons – bass
• Darkness Silence Mirror Flame is available NOW through Creator-Destructor Records
• Produced, recorded, mixed, mastered by Van Labrakis