Nightfell- The Living Ever Mourn

By Chris Dahlberg

Published on Tuesday, June 24, 2014

Nightfell is a Portland doom/crust punk band that is a collaboration between Todd Burdette (His Hero is Gone, Tragedy) and Tim Call (Aldebaran, The Howling Wind). The two released their debut full length The Living Ever Mourn earlier this year via Southern Lord and Tim’s label Parasitic Records, and unlike some of the other collaborations they have handled all of the instrumental work themselves without bringing in guests. Although quite a bit of the album sounds like an extension of Tragedy and Aldebaran with a few differences rather than something truly different for Burdette or Call, it’s still a quality debut that should appeal to fans of both these musicians.

Aside from two shorter interludes, The Living Ever Mourn focuses on lengthier tracks that all run somewhere between six and eight minutes. The instrumental work tends to orient itself towards slower arrangements where melodic guitar leads build up over top of a much heavier, desolate base. Early on I found that Nightfell reminded me of what Tragedy might sound like if they slowed things down to about half speed and incorporated prominent doom elements. That’s not to say that this project is basically just rehashing what Burdette has done in that group, but there are some leads that wouldn’t sound out of place on one of Tragedy’s past releases. This is hardly a bad thing, as I really like all of their releases, but I did find that it took until about the halfway point until Nightfell started to truly branch off in a direction of their own. When this album is at its best the instrumentals offer the same level of crushing intensity and suffocating atmosphere that doom is known for with some crust punk and black/death metal influences subtly being added into the mix. I do think there’s room for this duo to further expand upon the direction they end up heading in by the end of The Living Ever Mourn, but have still found it a release I’ve wanted to return to.

Both Burdette and Call provide vocals throughout the course of the album, and I did notice that Burdette seemed to be most prominent on quite a few of the songs. The vocal style is familiar, coming in at a lower pitched scream/growl but it’s drawn out to have a bit more raspiness and abrasiveness rather than the familiar gruff scream from Tragedy or extremely low reverberating growls from Aldebaran. About halfway in Nightfell also starts to utilize some cleaner pitches on “Empty Prayers” and incorporate some traditional doom elements, which let the band explore their mellower side and offer a somber side that scales back the intensity without letting up on atmosphere. It caught me by surprise the first time through but it clicked on subsequent listens and I’ve come to really appreciate when the group goes for this type of singing. It’s a style I could see them utilizing in greater capacity further down the road, and does help to make their material a bit more distinguishable from their other projects.

I like what Burdette and Call are going for with Nightfell and their debut full length does have some standout tracks that do the crust meets doom sound in a way that’s really going to grab attention. But it didn’t quite hook me on every track in the way that some of the other bands these two have been involved with, and I think there’s a lot of additional potential for these guys to push even further beyond the styles people know them for and give this project a true sound of its own. Hopefully this continues to be an active project and not just a one-off album, as they’ve started off strong but could use a few more pushes to reach something truly special.

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