Nightbearer - Ghosts Of A Darkness To Come

Roaring like a freight train 3 years after their debut, the German based Nightbearer bring forth a heavy concept album based off the fantasy writer Robert Jordan’s “Wheel Of Time.” While “Ghosts Of A Darkness to Come” is a bit more sinister, in lyrics and sound, it does justice for the fans of the book with the approach and avoids as much as possible to add any flimsy, fantasy metal touches. What listeners get here is more of a raw Swedish death metal sound in the vein of Grave or Dismember, right from the raw guitars, throaty vocals, and a bit of a hazy production touch. Like Bloodbath’s debut album “Resurrection Through Carnage” the fuzzy guitars heard on ‘Wolves By My Side’ should be very familiar with the mid paced chugging tone, along with the mournful guitar solos. This is very doomy, but not quite there. However, like a lot of Dismember and Grave albums, while the rush of the fuzzy, gritty old school feel is great, it tends to stale itself after the third track or so, and Nightbearer find themselves in the same rut by the time ‘Forever In Darkness’ comes along. While there is a bit more groove in the guitar work and a bit of a churning different approach to the music as far as the feet stomping riffs to go along with the drums, this more Six Feet Under death n’ roll does its best to break up the monotony with some success, but not quite enough to grab listeners by the throat. It still makes this track one of the highlights of the album through for the variations.

‘A Shadowspawn’ tries to mix things up with a thrashier approach, but the only issue is that ‘Blood And Bloody Ashes’ follows suit, rather than try to be its own song. ‘Where No Wind Ever Blows’ adds more of an orchestral backdrop and brings something new for Nighbearer; subtle, but it makes the music sound more doom laden and less of the Grave/ Dismember hash up. For those looking for the heaviest track on the album ‘A Conquest In Blood’ is the ultimate pit song. Fast, heavy, and less of the a monotone paced chug, the guitar work from Dominik Hellmuth is taken to another level compared to their debut, and the layered vocals from Michael Torka are more varied than the throaty bark he usually delivers. Things fall back more to the typical Dismember sound on the title track, but it is the good, slow Dismember sound. Like a good echoing mid paced death metal track that can be compared to the aforementioned band’s ‘Black Sun’ off their self titled release, this one oozes along with long, drawn out riffs, tortured vocals, and overall a much darker tone than what the first half of the album presented. It hits hard, especially with the solos, and showcases some of Nightbearer’s best work, even if it is not the best track on the album.

‘Doom, Death And Desolation’ adds a lot of deceiving melody and is a bit of a cornerstone for the band, as they’ve tried to keep their sound as simple and gritty, so to hear the more doom/ melo death oriented guitar solos along with the vibrant guitar chugs is another notch in Nightbearer’s progression. A bit more Grave or Unleashed inspired, this is more Swedish death worship that will do for fans who want simple yet effective. While the dramatic keyboards might be missed as heard on ‘Where No Wind Ever Blows’ it keeps listeners aware that Nightbearer are more about riffs and vocals to deliver their story, rather than saturate too much background support to bury the message.

In short, this album is a fun, mid paced listen that doesn’t quite get a rise out of listeners like a Hate Eternal album might but won’t bore them either or make them want to skip the album completely halfway through. The lyrics may not directly be pages from “Wheel Of Time” but the overall fantasy feel from them will make the readers happy, and even if one isn’t the fan of the books or Amazon series the crushing doom of the odious death metal sound should be haunting and gripping enough. Not a perfect album, but lots of the tracks will be feet stompers nonetheless.

3.5 / 5 STARS

1. Wolves By My Side
2. The Dragon Reborn
3. Forever In Darkness
4. A Shadowspawn
5. Blood And Bloody Ashes
6. The Shadow’s Waiting
7. Where No Wind Ever Blows
8. A Conquest In Blood
9. Ghosts Of A Darkness To Come
10. Doom, Death, Desolation