Orchestral arrangements and death metal combine on The Great Nothing by the Italian band Nightland on their third full-length release.
Nightland came on to the symphonic death metal scene in 2011 with the ep Knights of the Dark Empire followed with the ep In Solemn Rise in 2012. The band really started to make a presence in 2015 with their first full-length album, Obsession, and then supported Fleshgod Apocalypse during a European tour in 2017. In 2019, the band released Umbra Astra Luna‘ and now, The Great Nothing’. The album was been mixed and mastered by Simone Mularoni at Domination Studio in San Marino.
Album reviews bring back so many memories of bands long forgotten…thankfully the internet can help. Long ago (late 90’s) there was a band on Rowe Productions with vocals much like those in Nightland and for the life of me, I could not remember the band. A couple of searches later and through the magic of google, I found Ethereal Scourge and knew instantly that was the band I was thinking of, but just on a vocal level. Ludovico Cioffi’s vocals are rough, near growled death metal in style, while the band employs clean vocals for choruses and the two work very well together. The first track “The Conjunctin of Benetnash” provides a warm welcoming view into what is to come on the album. The nearly 7 minute long track starts out with some clean guitar picking before the full band comes in very loudly over the top of the sustained opening rhythm, which eventually heads into distortion. From an arrangement perspective, there are a lot of elements going on which one would expect in a symphonic metal band and then when you add in the raspy, shouted death metal vocals reminiscent of Ethereal Scourge and Becoming the Archetype, you have an idea of the full sound. Production and mixing is great with everything being heard in the mix and the vocals having an almost otherworldly, majestic aspect to them, both the clean and the death metal ones.
“For Once My Name” starts out with much less of an intro section and the song quickly settles into a thumping rhythm driven along by the bass guitar of Filippo Scrima and again clean choir-like chorus sections break up the song. Even after just two songs, the thought put into the arrangements really strikes me and the use of quieter moments within the overall bombast of the songs adds an interesting element for the listener. Cioffi’s vocal delivery in the verse sections is such that the driving bass behind them seems to almost emphasize the words, which adds to the power.
“Shade of a Lowering Star” clocks in at almost 11 minutes and as you might expect is a track filled with changes. The initial verse sections start out punctuated by a blast beat background coupled with the choir-like chorus. Eventually the distorted guitars fade away for a bit as things get quieter, while the double bass drums still goes at ultra-fast speed. The quiet is broken by an extended guitar piece including a solo that builds until the rest of the band comes fully back into the song and all this is just in the first half of the song. When the loudness fades away around the 8 minute mark the listener can hear the underlying melody that was there the whole time.
“Further” begins more like a mainstream metal song at least compared to others on the album, but never lets you forget this is a death metal album. There are a number of elements that come into play building into the main rhythm and melody of the song and the band expertly takes time in the intro to blend them. Vocals again here are largely delivered over just a bass and drum backdrop with some orchestral elements sprinkled in for texture. The main riff of the song is a catchy one and has its own bits of complexity as well, further adding to the appeal of the song.
“101 Megaparsecs” shows the band giving the listener a break with the quiet instrumental being entirely orchestral and choir in content. This is followed by the 3 part “The Great Nothing”. Part 1 “Of Seeking and Straying” begins quietly but quickly turns to blast beats and fast bass and guitar parts. The song doesn’t slow at all when the vocals come in. Similarly, Part 2 “The Reliever” starts out quietly but swells into a much louder mode as the full band comes in. This song also features the best guitar solos on the album, so is definitely worth checking out. A lone piano opens up Part 3 “Pursuers of Absolution” and is eventually joined by a string section in its somewhat sorrowful tone before the piano ends and the guitars swell into a full volume attack joined by the full band and orchestral elements. As with other tracks on the album, the contribution of multiple guitars to the overall sound is hard to describe but adds a distinctly complex element to the song and the way the band has arranged the fadeouts throughout the album and especially in this song add to the overall effect.
Nightland have managed to create a complex landscape of sound on The Great Nothing, blending strong musicianship with an understanding of complex arrangements and effective use of choir and death metal vocals, providing a great and somewhat unique listening experience.
Written by John Jackson
- The Conjunction of Benetnash
- For Once My Name
- Shade of a Lowering Star
- 101 Megaparsecs
- The Great Nothing pt.1 – Of Seeking and Straying
- The Great Nothing pt. 2 – The Reliever
- The Great Nothing pt. 3 – Pursuers of Absolution
Simone Mularoni – guitars
Ludovico Cioffi – vocals, guitars, orchestral arrangements
Brendan Paolini – guitars
Filippo Scrima – bass
Filippo Cicoria – drums
Record Label: Scarlet Records
Record Label: November 19th. 2021
Video for ‘Further’
Video for ‘For Once My Name’