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Nyctophobia : Arid

The music Nyctophobia composes is of a strange, otherworldly nature.

Nyctophobia is an obscure one-man Funeral Doom project from the UK, and even though Arid is already the third release, little can be found out about its background. The only content of the project’s website is a link to a free download of the entire album. However, such secrecy seems rather apt given the strange, otherworldly nature of the music. This release should be of interest for connoisseurs of the genre who are looking for something fresh, while those who are new to the genre should rather begin with something less challenging.

“Thirst” opens the album with an intro of sinister synth and clean guitar, setting the mood for the rest of the material. Soon highly distorted, almost droning guitar chords and slow, minimalist drumming take over, embedded in a muffled sounding production with low treble. The occasional lead guitar lines consist of a few notes only, but are composed and placed so effectively that they add a great deal of oppressive atmosphere. Additionally, a strange hissing sound fades in and out several times in the course of the track’s 18 minutes – a fairly untypical element which, among others, sets Nyctophobia apart from the conventional approaches to the genre. Now imagine something sounding like a vibraphone coming out of nowhere around the six-minute-mark to melt into this musical nightmare (according to Wikipedia, Nyctophobia is “a phobia characterized by a severe fear of the darkness” – fitting, isn’t it?)! This particular track is fairly original and varied, but despite all these elements, the style remains minimalist, repetitive and hypnotic all the time. Changes are subtle and well placed. Interestingly, there are no distinguishable vocals to be found, and this turns out to be the case for the whole album.

The title of the second track, “Under the Midday Sun”, seems really surprising on a Doom Metal release, and in fact one tends to take it as pure irony when listening to the music. However, it makes sense in connection to the cover artwork and the other track titles if one imagines wandering around in that bleak desert landscape under the burning sun without a drop of water in sight. Various layers of noisy, droning and pulsating loops open up the track, creating a sound which is decidedly different from that of “Thirst”. When the regular riffing returns, it is less hypnotic and complex and even more repetitive than before. Low droning guitars take the lead here. Sometimes, the aforementioned noise elements reappear and are superimposed onto the guitars. For a short while, there is even some aggressive, rhythmic noise to be heard, reminiscent of the degenerated beats of some Breakcore artists. Due to these elements, “Under the Midday Sun” is definitely even more a matter of taste. On the whole, it is also far less interesting and captivating than the opener, making it the only downside to this album.

All the thirsty wandering around in the heat must necessarily result in “Exhaustion”. This last track is much better again. Here, synths and strange sound effects are absent most of the time and the basic elements are more central. The riffing is even slightly aggressive in the beginning and generally more varied. Most importantly, the menacing atmosphere of “Thirst” returns here to great effect.

If you like bleak, oppressive Funeral Doom in the vein of Nortt and are interested in a more experimental approach (Torture Wheel and Rostau come to mind), this album will be a worthy listening experience. Since it can be downloaded for free, you can do nothing wrong anyway. A promising project to keep an eye on.

Reviewer's rating: Unrated


Tracklist :
1. Thirst
2. Under the Midday Sun
3. Exhaustion

Duration : Approx. 46 minutes

Visit the Nyctophobia bandpage.

Reviewed on 2011-08-19 by Dominik Sonders
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