Nailed to Obscurity - Black Frost - (7.5/10)
Published on January 6, 2019
Nailed to Obscurity are a German doom/death metal band established in Essen that have been active since 2005 and have released 3 albums to date. Their sound shows visible similarities to bands like Katatonia or November’s Doom though noticeably heavier than these names. I was really curious to check them out because, supporting their upcoming 4th release “Black Frost”, the band will be touring Europe with Amorphis, Soilwork and Jinjer, and I will be present at one of these shows, so it seemed only fitting to give a shout-out to the opening band. As it turns out, despite not being a huge fan of their style, they still had a bit of a treat in store for me.
The title of this album gives a pretty accurate description of how the music feels. Though dominated by a dark atmosphere, their sound seems to step away from the regular doom metal territory and finds the band experimenting and getting creative. They mostly stick to slow paced riffs and ideas but also succeed in sounding quite powerful. The instrumental creates an atmosphere of frigid melancholy topped with a spike of aggression that is also enhanced by the death metal-ish harsh vocals. The songs come in surging waves of sombre energy with an atmospheric background that rarely gets lost, even when the riffs turn heavier, Simply put, this is doom metal with cojones.
The band falls short when we start talking about memorability. Few sections of the album stand out in a way that would actually capture your attention. It takes some patience to really make sense of the sound and perceive it in a way that can actually feel engaging. Unless you’re keeping a close ear, the music can seem bland and pass you by without saying much, but it does become a more captivating experience after several spins. This comes to say that it won’t really be appealing to people who aren’t used to the genre. But it can still be worth your time if you want to add a darker tone to your life.
Getting more analytical I find myself quite fond of the dual guitar work and especially of the way the two guitarists complement each other. The screechy lead guitars remind me of late October Tide (probably the most similar band I can find) and usually have a solid harmony to rely on. Clean sections build up a lot of the atmosphere of the album, at times reminding of Opeth (clean guitar theme in ”Road to Perdition”) and work well combined with the clean vocals and the occasional whispers. The whispering adds a touch of mystery to the sound and I also like how the boundary between screaming and whispering is crossed seamlessly, blending the two vocal styles into a unitary flow. The main harsh vocal is probably the weakest link of the vocal performance but it serves well to add a nice punch and amplify the instrumental when it gets heavier. The guitar riffs are quite dynamic and highly distorted recurring alternating heavy sections with the atmospheric twists and within shortly saddling back on the power. The pounding drum sound enhances the heavy parts a lot and shows extensive use of toms to be deep and profound. The points where the instrumental reaches its climax are the progressive hints that pull apart some of the riffs before flowing back into arrow-straight heavy downpours. Now I know all these elements don’t really make you think ‘doom metal’, but what the band does best is combining these elements with melancholy to add a creative, colorful shape to an overall grey genre.
An album that may seem quite stagnant and flat at first listen finds itself growing more and more into a worthy listen with time, but most likely being appealing from day one for followers of doom. Nailed to Obscurity won’t blow through anybody’s roof but they do a pretty good job at tapping the paint from the ceiling while many bands today can barely lift off the ground. I’m probably getting too critical about this album as autumnal depressive music was never my G spot, but for those who enjoy dark music, it’s sure down your alley while also standing on its own separate spot from all the repetitive grey albums out there. No matter what kind of music one listens to, I’d say it’s a longshot to fall in love with Nailed to Obscurity, but they do stand on their own ground and sound quite original in a genre that is often plagued by cloudy masses of insipid repetitive noodling, and that counts for a lot. Not blowing anything out of proportion is a safe way to go and I find many bands approaching things with this balanced attitude, especially in doom metal, but it often finds them not standing the test of time, so although I’m enjoying this album now, I will probably be switching to something else after a while. But if you’re spending valuable time reading my incessant and awkwardly philosophic yodel, it means you most likely haven’t heard it yet so you’re probably better off doing that.