Nocturnal Torment [USA]
They Come At Night
Despite the band’s formation being way back in 1988, They Come at Night is American death metal band Nocturnal Torment‘s debut full length album, with their only other release being their 2009 demo. Between the formation and this release though, the band has been involved in numerous other bands, perhaps explaining the inactivity in Nocturnal Torment, and this makes They Come at Night all the more interesting as a debut album, the result of the culmination of the individual members’ experiences over the past 20 years.
Fortunately, Nocturnal Torment makes the 20 years a well-deserved wait, as They Come at Night presents some of the most bludgeoning death metal. Right from opening track Vile Affliction, the band’s numerous influences are immediately audible, from the dark, trem-picked style of Incantation to the abrasive, buzzing guitar tones that Swedish death metal bands are known for. The Swedish death metal sound is pretty prominent throughout the album, with the band presenting listeners with somewhat groovy riffs in the middle of many tracks that instantly remind listeners of the works of bands like Entombed, such as those in the middle of Vile Affliction. That said though, for the most part, the music on They Come at Night is solidly rooted in aggressive old school death metal, sounding like a raging version of Incantation. The thrash metal influences of the band are also clear, especially in the riffing patterns on songs like Alternative Reality, and there are even slight black metal influences in the urgent trem-picked riffs on Bleeding, easily sending the listener into a state of panic.
As musicians as well, the band has managed to prove that the 20 years were not spent in vain. The vocals in particular help in driving the music forward, with the gruff-sounding growl and the frantic way that the lyrics are spit out, and the rage is immediately felt by listeners. The album also contains quite a large number of complex guitar riffs that guitarists Tom and Mark execute with much ease, and their abilities on their instruments is even more evident through the solos that are present throughout the album. Those on Alternative Reality especially show their flamboyant usage of the whammy bar as well, further upping the chaos that is already present. The solo on songs like Bleeding stand out as well, though they could sound weird in the grand scheme of things but this does little to affect the enjoyment of the album. The band also constantly attempts to mess with the listener’s head, with the sudden speed-ups and slow-downs in their tempo with little warning beforehand, such as those on Cycle of Life, and fortunately these are done in a tasteful manner, allowing for drummer Dave to show off his chops.
They Come at Night is the product of Nocturnal Torment‘s more than 20 years of existence, and throughout the album screams out “old school” not only in the songwriting, but also in the way that the music is played and the raw and harsh production of the album, making this an extremely pleasing album to fans of old school death metal, though the runtime of almost 1 hour certainly started taking it’s toll on me towards the end of the album.