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Nihil Eyes – Black Path

Nihil Eyes
Black Path
by Alexis Lareine at 29 April 2018, 11:37 PM

“Black Path” is the first full-length release from UK-based band NIHIL EYES, a self-described Political Death Metal group. They are currently unsigned, and previously released a 4-song EP aptly titled “Demo(n)”, featuring demos of four of the songs that made it onto the album. The album was released in October of 2017; it hasn’t seemed to garner too much attention yet – the album itself is not available anywhere online at the moment, although if you dig through YouTube, there are a few playthroughs for a few tracks, and the first four songs on the album are discussed in a “trailer”. The only songs they have on YouTube outside of this are “Treachery and Id” and the song “Nihil Eyes.”

It begins with a track called “Nihil Eyes”, which was also the first song on the EP. The intro is an intriguing, ominous melody that immediately draws you in. The production immediately stands out: the guitar tone is well-balanced, mid-y and clear. Every instrument has room to breathe, exactly what you want from a mix. At 1:00 the vocals enter, which sound more like aggressive speaking than anything. The lead guitar melody comes in and makes the section overall more enjoyable to listen to; it adds another layer of interest, which is exactly what the song needs at the time. When the main riff comes in and drums enter, the drum mix is great as well: clicky kick drum and a snare with the perfect crack. The vocals stay at a static tone, very much like aggressive, raspy chanting all throughout. The song has an overall modern hard rock feel with a different take on grindcore vocals. It goes between the same two riffs, but the riffs aren’t really changed up enough to warrant playing these same riffs over and over. The chorus is something you could chant along with but as an opening track it’s a bit underwhelming. The lead guitar line that enters after the sample leaves me wishing for some vibrato; without it, the lead line stays at one static level. The guitar solo at 3:30 suits the feel of the song – it’s dripping in delay, and it works in this setting. After the short solo, the song builds in a way that you anticipate what comes next, and it enters a bridge section that leaves you wanting a bit more from it. I get the feel they’re trying to go for with the type of breakdown, and it’s heavy, without a doubt, but it doesn’t have quite the impact that you want out of a good grind breakdown. The track overall isn’t super dynamic, but the lead guitar line that keeps coming back is very memorable and draws you in.

“Burn the Leech”, the second song on the EP, immediately bashes your face in with an intro with a techdeath feel that immediately excites. When the riff drops, it hits you as a song that would be great in a live setting; one of those thrash riffs that inspires regular people to tear each other apart in the pit. The vocals essentially stay the same throughout the entire album: they’re more like aggressive chanting. The riff change at 0:54 continues the slight techdeath feel with a dissonant tremolo-picked scorcher. The song is progressing well and builds in a satisfying way that was missing from the first song. The song essentially just repeats then ends, and it feels too short. The song builds, especially at 2:00, you feel like it’s about to head into something really brutal but then. . . it ends. I feel that this song should have opened the album; it has this undeniable energy that the first song is lacking. The first song of an album should immediately make an impact, and this song does that.

“Lord of Flies” is also featured on Demo(n), and it opens with a sample that matches the pattern of modern death metal samples: flies buzzing and what sounds like a scared, gasping woman. The song features heavy, catchy, classic death metal riffs. Around 1:30, they make another attempt at a heavy interlude, but, again, it doesn’t have quite the intended impact that you want from a grindcore breakdown. The simple heaviness of the pure core riff at 2:20 is a nice change-up. The change at 2:45 finally has the brutal impact that I’ve been waiting for.

“As the Water Falls” opens with a clear, ringing bass line and a very clean, legato lead on top that adds a nice layer, and the entire section builds in a minimalist style, measure by measure until a straight up modern hard rock chugging riff breaks in with a boom-tap in the drums to accentuate the new style. The lead guitar line is super static again, but it’s a pretty melody. Typically, I think talking in a song is, for lack of a better word, lame, but when the talking in this song begins, it fits the feel of the song. At 4:40, the guitar solo is, again, very pretty, pleasing melody, but it is static, and I wish it was more dynamic, but the complete lack of vibrato or dynamic change leaves it lacking. The song overall is hypnotic and fun to listen to.

“Border Line” is a purely a hard rock song, with a few riffs here and there that break up the style, particularly the tremolo-picked riff at 2:09. The song overall is super catchy. The drums really get to shine in this song: the ride rings beautifully and fits in the mix perfectly. The toms sound like a drum fill from Hell at 2:30; this song has some of Szymon’s best work on this album. The guitar solo is almost obscenely short, but simple and aurally pleasing. The riff at 4:15 is a change I’ve been waiting for the entire album – it could be a slam riff if the vocals were different; it’s a great dynamic change from the rest of the album but also seems too short. The cymbal work at 5:09 is brilliant, a bit reminiscent of Gene Hoglan’s cymbal work – an accent that spices up a simple song.

The next two songs, “True Nihilist” and “Treachery and id” are the highlights of this album. “True Nihilist” immediately kicks you in the face with some pure, Exodus-style thrash. This, like “Burn the Leech”, is another song that would be best in a live setting. If not for the vocals, this would be a complete thrash song, complete with harmonics in the verse and double stops in the solo. This is my favorite song on the album, blazing from start to finish, and the ending with a grunt is my favorite way to end a song.

“Treachery and id” is another song featured on Demo(n). It is another very thrash-style piece; you know it as soon as the skank beat comes enters at the beginning. The drums really complement this style so well, with the cymbal hits on the second and fourth beat and 8th notes on the ride. This one is also a testament to Szymon’s skill. The vocals on this song, however, are sporadic at times in a way that feels almost improvised. At 2:20, there is another section of speaking, which doesn’t seem to benefit the song; it may be meant to get a theme or idea across, but the speaking aspect seems a bit unnecessary. The guitar solo at 3:00 is a pure thrash solo. It has a personality that other solos on the album are lacking. It’s a classic sloppy thrash solo, but it’s a thrilling change from the previous solos. It’s such a fun solo, reminiscent of a classic Kerry King solo.

“Manifesto” opens with a clean picked riff, which makes me think it’s like most other death metal outros: soft to contrast the rest of the album. But at 0:50, I am proven completely wrong. This is my favorite part of the album by far. This song is an assault on your ears with a pure evil aggression and intensity that is missing from the other songs. 1:45, however, has another talking section that, again, doesn’t feel like it’s benefiting the song. It is a very strange section that honestly made me a bit uncomfortable, but that may very well have been what they were going for. The super brutal aggression returns at 2:40. The riff that follows is a hollow, haunting progression in a style of which is not heard on the rest of the album.

The highlights of this album were the pure thrash songs, and the undeniable brutality of “Manifesto”. The vocal quality stayed the same through most of the album. If you’re not a fan of raspier grind vocals, this album won’t change your mind. The album would have benefited from changing up the monotonous vocal style every now and then. The thrash solo in “Treachery and id” is the best lead material from Casey on the album – it’s fun, sloppy, aggressive, classic thrash and makes the album fun to listen to.

As a whole, the album does not particularly set itself apart. It does a good job of blending different elements of grindcore and thrash, and as a first album, the mix is impeccable. A bigger online presence would definitely benefit this band; modern thrash fans would love some of these songs, the music just has to be more available to listeners.

Songwriting: 7
Originality: 6
Memorability: 6
Production: 9

3 Star Rating

Tracklist:
1. Nihil Eyes
2. Burn the Leech
3. Lord of Flies
4. As the Water Falls
5. Border Line
6. True Nihilist
7. Treachery and id
8. Manifesto
Lineup:
Szymon Ogietto – Drums
Max Morgan – Bass
Casey Jones – Guitar and Vocals
Record Label: Independent
     


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Edited 06 April 2020
 

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