Nihill: Krach / Grond
10/08/10 || Khlysty
Okay, I’ll come clean with you: this review is an experiment. Not only because I’m using a .gif picture that shows both “Krach” (2007) and “Grond” (2009) covers, but, mainly, because I don’t think there’s ever been a double enténdre review, here in GD. But, see, there’s reason behind me folly: Nihill –a black metal collective from the Netherlands, whose members’ identities are completely unknown to the public- sees both those albums (plus another, which supposedly will be out sometime during 2010 or 2011, fuck if I know) as part of an ongoing trilogy, thematically and musically interconnected.
Following the steps of DsO, the band here deals with “big” issues, like Gnosticism, philosophy and death, in a manner that goes way beyond the usual agent provocateur lyricism of black metal. From the lyrics one can easily glean that our boys from the land of tulips have spent quite some time reading and thinking about what they read, before putting pen to paper. Not that the listener while be able to discern word one from the vocals which are comprised of a tortured croak and are buried REALLY deep into the mix (kinda like the vocals of DsO as interpreted by “MoRT”-era Blut Aus Nord).
So, what the listener is left with is the music these guys dress up their nihillistic (haha, pun intended, now fuck you) musings with. And, once again, I have to resort to comparisons with the greats of the French black metal scene of today, in order to give you an idea of what these guys sound like. See, Nihill obviously take their cues from the likes of Blut Aus Nord, DsO, S.V.E.S.T. and Antæus, to create a vortex of extremely angular and dissonant black metal, which the band combines with parts of scary-tactics droning ambiance, that at times reminded me the works of “isolationism” artists, like Mick Harris and Thomas Köner at their most subdued and impressionistic.
As I’ve said in other reviews, I like this approach towards black metal quite a lot and I think that, when done right, it can be much more effective than your tr00, kvlt, grim, nekro and whateverthefuckelse black metal. Both “Krach” and “Grond” utilize this method to deploy the music of them crazy-ass Netherlanders and both records are extremely well-made. The black metal parts of the songs are furious and ugly, with the guitars buzzing and screeching like burning banshees, while the blastbeats sound more like a Gatling gun than your usual whiteouts. The production is phenomenal, saturated and, at the same time quite expansive, so that to let the drones that continuously play underneath the music to make their presence felt.
The “ambient” –or, more precisely, “illbient”- tracks on both records (they basically take up the most of their running time) are quite well-conceived and executed, in a I’m-in-a-dark-and-unknown-space-and-there-are-noises-that-I-REALLY-don’t-want-to-know-about-their-sources way. As I said before, the vocals will remind the discerning listener of the DsO/Blut Aus Nord approach, throaty croaks and screams buried deep in the mix. Anyway, the bottom line here is that Nihill, while not exactly super-original, take the tried and true dogmas of other bands about how can one create effective and a bit scary black metal and twist them in a most satisfyingly sick way.
Both “Krach” and “Grond” are texturally-watertight exercises in ambient black metal. They both work as unique records, but I think that Nihill would like the listener to see them as parts of something quite bigger and scarier than their individual elements would let one think. They’re great for what they are and I cannot but suggest that you check them out, especially if none-linear black metal is your thingy.
- Released: 2007/2009
- Label: Hydra Head
- Website: Nihill MySpace
- No conclusive evidence about the members’ identities
- 01. Empirical
- 02. Mundus Subterreanus
- 03. Gnosis pt.I
- 04. Dreams upon the scaffold
- 05. Gnosis pt. II
- 06. Gnosis pt. III
- 01. Aard (the fermentation of sol and luna in the black foliated earth)
- 02. Antimoon (concerning the dead, the coffin’s fire slow but eternal)
- 03. Vacuum (the complexity of entering the vaults of Daath)
- 04. Pulsus (sailing the great dark cosmic sea of chaos)