NIGHTFELL – Never Comes the Storm (2022)REVIEW

The thinker at the gates of Hell. — Portland, Oregon-based doom metal duo Nightfell had more in the tank after their long-awaited third full-length ‘A Sanity Deranged‘ reprised a notably heavy death/doom metal sound and creeping melodic bent in 2019, pure relief for the fan beyond a half-decade or so respite. It’d been one of the more notable blackened death/doom metal records of said year and one I’d reviewed favorably alongside a bit of fumbled-through band history and such. Naturally the slim distance between then and now means their fourth full-length, ‘Never Comes the Storm‘, will inevitably be read and writ in likeness and/or response to its direct predecessor and this is arguably fair in both cases, in tandem even, but none should mistake this record for a quasi-sequel. The rhythmic legacy of mid-to-late nineties Bolt Thrower is yet in their muscle memory alongside funeral death/doom’s mournful resonances, the dark shade of tragedian melodicism inherent to the duo’s work sustains with undeniably brilliancy, and all of the toppling atmospheric dread they are known for hammers down just as hard. The argument for iteration upon core concept in refinement weighs as heavy as the riffs do in this case yet I’d deign to make the argument that the soul is changed, decaying with the passage of time as we find a next stage of dissolution emergent within these somber meditations.

Subtle notions conveyed in slow-built ’til burning grand gesture, Nightfell‘s discography has largely been described as a merger of two parts, worlds translated between precedence for doom in various seminal crust punk traditions and how that’d easily relate to tragedian, sometimes surrealistic funeral death/doom metal. This’d always felt a bit incomplete as some love for classic death metal is relevant but it’ll be fine enough to suggest they are a mid-paced atmospheric death/doom metal group with a unique sense of melody tasked with a stark dystopian vision of ruination and insanity in mournful ode. With that description in mind ‘Never Comes the Storm‘ appears just as far-gone, doomed and bleak as past works yet the sensation of limbo, or, a yearning for release from the captivity of the disaster in plain view persists within its likely The Ruins of Beverast influenced sense of tension and dwelling, pensive thought. The title track, “Never Comes the Storm”, eventually pushes us there in practicum in building towards the grand finale of the full listen though no relief arrives in truth, the full listen purposefully builds motif around its starting, middle and ending sections (by way of piano and riff progression, mostly) in the process of creating an ouroboric motion easily repeated into profound impact at just under a half hour ride. This succinctness of the experience wouldn’t work if the album wasn’t designed in such a way, a looping thought with exceptional depth of experience and variety.

A mired, entrenched sense of place within our miserable plane of existence finds rattling chains and slow-danced rhythmic études surrounding the indomitable statement of “Emptiness of Belief” wherein this depressive and oft cathedralesque death/doom metal piece arrives as a grand point of finesse, a mastery beyond even some of the finer points of ‘A Sanity Deranged‘. The rhythm guitar thread could’ve likely pushed on for a few more minutes as the scene ends simply because it’d finished its initial descent, with all of the grand setup achieved beyond the introductory motif built and the enormity of the first salvo ‘Never Comes the Storm‘ takes a break to dwell, easing through a couple of shorter pieces which feel like they’re missing a chapter in between. This’ll be the only inconsistency felt on the full listen, the sense that Side A ends its statement building towards something that’d never arrive and no, I’m not sure that is satisfying enough irony per the title of the record.

…And just like that we’re back at the title track and its rousing riff-driven introduction, a tank-like ride through inspired mid-paced death metal rhythms and a gloom-stricken respite within its final third. Here the already established Nightfell fan would find the most comfortable spot to immerse beyond the first major song and the three transitional pieces surrounding it yet the only true revelation beyond the warming subtleties of said bulk of the album arrives with the morbid congregational chorales of the distraught, devotional nihil of “End of the Rope”. A strong funeral doom metal piece in its own right with an appropriately dramatic presentation and vocal to end the record as the piano chimes back in the dark conclusion of the record.

At a glance all of this’d been entertaining and well enough a continuation beyond what we’d heard from the band in the past yet these pieces are delivered at an economy of statement less likely to repeat, less likely to wander aimlessly. Due to this succinct, almost unfinished feeling running order, ‘Never Comes the Storm‘ immediately bears repeating, partaking multiple listens for the sake of catching all of those smaller details and feeling the greater statement arriving in mind, loop after loop. The space between pieces allows their impact to worm into mind and the surrounding atmospheric development and intimate framing separates what’d otherwise have glued into one great glob of rad death metal thunder. It goes without saying that the production values are intense, professional yet organic in creation of surreal yet forcefully filled space and this likewise helps the character of this record to build in mind as an atypical mad-yet-mournful feeling which lacks nothing. A half hour is the perfect amount of time to crack open a window and let the smoking dread of Nightfell fill the room and intoxicate, their work is overwhelming enough that the overall presentation leaves a considerable dent just as their thought finishes. A high recommendation.

High recommendation. (85/100)

Rating: 8.5 out of 10.
TITLE:Never Comes the Storm
LABEL(S):Parasitic Records [CS]
RELEASE DATE:March 31st, 2022

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