After the highly acclaimed 2009 debut Stills, Dutch black metal duo Nachtvorst this year returns with their follow up, Silence, with the aim to instil even more depression and sadness into followers of the band with their broody brand of black metal.
And this happens right from the beginning of the album. Despite the rather chaotic introductory sound sample of The Serpent’s Tongue, Nachtvorst mostly goes at an extremely slow pace compared to the usual high pace that most black metal bands tend to play at, and this definitely works well in the case of Silence as the entire album progresses at such a pace, making the journey at once a painful and enjoyable journey. The challenge of such a doom-paced album is usually to crush the listeners with heaviness as is the case for most doom metal bands, and Nachtvorst manages to utilise the heaviness along with the rather long track lengths to slowly cultivate the emotions on the album, with the album starting off rather aggressively, and slowly getting more and more depressive as the album progresses.
This is helped by the vocals of Erghal, who alternates between deep, throaty growls and high-pitched shrieks, each utilised according to the various moods of the music. The shrieks and howls, especially are desolate and sufficiently brings out that desperation of Nachtvorst‘s music. Leopold, who handles all the instruments, is also equally capable, changing his playing style accordingly, ranging from heavily palm-muted chugs to the spacey, trem-picked riffs on the guitar. Instruments such as the piano and strings are also used to help to reinforce the atmosphere of the music. Particularly, interludes such as After… and …Before brought up comparisons with Dream Theater and some of their more emotional works as well. Tracks like Nightwinds and A Way of Silence give a slight surprise to the listener with the sudden and unexpected change in pace, and proves that the band is not only capable of playing slooooow songs, but can also turn up the intensity if need be, and this contrast on A Way of Silence helps to end the album on a high note, ensuring that the ominous feeling continues to loom ahead long after the album ends.
The production quality is stellar, and perhaps that, combined with the playing style of the band, reminds me of albums such as the excellent Opeth album, Watershed, only more gloomy, with the somewhat progressive style of black metal that Nachtvorst plays. One should also listen carefully as not one detail is spared in the production of the album, as the background is always filled with activity, and sounds of a busy crowd present at the background during the transition between The Serpent’s Tongue and After… makes it feel almost as if the band were playing in a public setting, only to be ignored by every passer-by.
The length of the album and the songs contained here are definitely not something that everyone will enjoy, but if one manages to last the entirety of the album, Silence is a satisfying experience, with the masterfully crafted songs on the album.