Friday, March 9, 2018

Full Length Review: EYE OF NIX Black Somnia (Scry Recordings)

Black Somnia
Country of origin: USA
Genre: Avant garde doom/black metal
Release date: December 15, 2017
My introduction to Eye Of Nix from Earsplit Public Relations arrived just in time for their sophomore album. Released last December, Black Somnia follows the band’s 2015 debut album Moros and self-titled 2013 demo. All of these releases are available for streaming in full at their Bandcamp profile. I would suggest giving each of them a chance, if you have receptivity and fortitude to pay an extended visit to their sinister, cheerless universe. What you encounter there may surprise you. On Black Somnia the Seattle band propagates a perpetual atmosphere of twilight illuminating the darkness just enough to light your passage. The illumination is always in the distance but not quite out of reach. The musicianship and arrangements are more disturbing than it would have sounded had the band pursued traditional darkness during the recording process. Each track has a different theme, making this journey similar to Dante’s Inferno. Imagine the most surreal depictions of the circles of hell and imagine the images conveyed musically. This is what to expect from the album, as the illumination in the distance serves to lead you to the next level. Billy Anderson who recorded and mixed Black Somnia gives the changes in mood sharp clarity and Brad Boatright who mastered the album does the overall sound much justice. An element of morbid beauty accompanies these horrid images, due especially to the vocals of frontwoman Joy Von Spain, a trained vocalist with an operatic style that adds many dimensions to the songs here. In her time Spain has worked and collaborated with many bands including Mongrel Gods, Epos Nemo Latrocinium, Vin Voleur, Microscopic Suffering, Stabbings and Antikythera and her experience pays off. Her siren calls, haunting whispers and bloodcurdling screams are delivered with equal conviction, and she has a presence that must be heard to be believed. She also wrote the lyrics for this album and her poeticism is as beneficial as her vocals. Another point contributing to the unique essence of Black Somnia is the addition of acoustic and percussion segments to complement the rougher edge of the musicianship. The other band members occasionally switch instruments when a song calls for another layer of sound. I was instantly enraptured by Black Somnia and plan to check out their previous releases and see what they have to offer. -Dave Wolff

Band lineup:
Joy Von Spain: vocals & lyrics
Nicholas Martinez: guitar (add'l vocals track 4)
Gerald Hansen: bass guitar
Masaaki Masao: samplers (add'l guitar tracks 2 & 5; add'l drum tracks 4 & 6)
Justin Straw: drums (add'l vocals track 4)

Track list:
1. Wound And Scar
2. Fear's Ascent
3. A Curse
4. Lull
5. Toll On
6. A Hideous Visage

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