Over the last few years, there has been a small sect of bands in traditional metal that fused the muscle & melody of the genre with a sense of gothic austerity. Taking inspiration from groups like 70’s Priest and Mercyful Fate’s 80’s output, these bands took the austerity implicit in the early works of those groups (EG Sad Wings of Destiny, Melissa etc), and made it a more explicit part of their approach. Alongside the added influence of gothic rock groups such as The Cure, Sisters of Mercy, Fields of the Nephilim among others. In modern trad, In Solitude fused their Fate and Maiden influence across a strong (and all too brief) discography, and others like Idle Hands essentially fuse the poppiest sensibilities of both genres together.
The Night Eternal is another new voice working within this field of traditional heavy metal. Hailing from northern Germany, this group is pretty clearly inspired by the aforementioned In Solitude and Mercyful Fate, but with enough of a distinct spin on the style without it feeling like a rehash of prior bands. They favor a somewhat more structurally off-beat approach – it’s very clearly an EP that’s driven first and foremost by the riffing more than anything else. And that the hazy, austere atmosphere emerges purely from the riffing and the somewhat odd manner in how the riffing emerges from each other than by production tricks or lifting goth rock hooks wholesale and crudely implementing them into metal songs.
Rather, a more patient listener tends to find that the riffing and the way it moves between each part is what dictates the course of the songs more than anything else, subtly shifting without being jarring or turning into bland, easy listening mush. It’s a structural/arrangement style that Mercyful Fate did better than almost anybody else in metal, and while I wouldn’t say these guys are on par with Fate – it is no insult, mind you; it’s just that about nobody really is – they do nonetheless write really organic songs in which the riffs are super memorable (and more melodically flexible than you’d expect), and everything just comes together very well. For a debut EP it’s rather confident stuff, and as a nice little capstone, they throw in a solid Judas Priest cover to round things out.
I initially gave this a 76 when we here at RiG were putting together our end of year lists – it struck me as being just “pretty decent” initially. Sometimes it’s rewarding to go back and spend some more time with a work – it’s very good work. This band is certainly on the right track and if they keep improving on their ideas here, we could perhaps be discussing them as one of the best new bands in trad metal very shortly. Keep an eye on this group in the future.
Favorite Track: Mark of Kain
Album Rating: 87/100