Album Type: Full Length
Date Released: 3/2/2014
Label: Southern Lord / Parasitic Records
‘The Living Ever Mourn’ CD/LP/DD track listing:
1). The Last Disease 06:27
2). I 01:40
3). I Am Decay 06:01
4). Empty Prayers 06:38
5). The Hollowing 06:19
6). II 01:53
7). Altars To Wrath 04:42
8). Funeral Dirge 08:01
Tim Call | Drum, Vocals
Todd Burdette | Vocals, Guitars, Bass
A lot has been made of the musical histories of the two men that make up Nightfell, and with good reason. Drummer/vocalist Tim Call comes to Nightfell via Aldebaran, The Howling Wind, and as a live contributor to Mournful Congregation. Guitarist/bassist/vocalist Todd Burdette comes from crust legends Tragedy, His Hero is Gone and Severed Head of State. With résumés like those it’s very easy to get hung up on comparisons to their previous work, or even worse; dwelling on how different Nightfell sounds from their musical past.
While there are certainly musical nods to each man’s musical pedigree throughout ‘The Living Ever Mourn’, it’s a much more exciting album than just mashing those two histories together. In fact, I’d say that while the album does have some of those elements; ‘The Living Ever Mourn’ amounts to something completely different. Sure, you'll recognize the influence of Tragedy in the lead guitars. A prime example would be the opening riff of “I Am Decay”, which boasts a similar musical theme to “Total Vision” from the “Nerve Damage” album. Another place you might hear the seeds for Nightfell’s sound is in “Night Falls” from Tragedy’s 2002 album Vengeance, though I’m not sure if that’s on purpose or coincidental. You’ll also notice echoes of Aldebaran in some of the bleak guitar harmonies, which are of vital importance to the album. Still, there's more going on.
If there’s an album this year that can match ‘The Living Ever Mourn’ for sheer emotional weight, I have yet to hear it. Just listen to the deeply-rooted sonic despair of “Empty Prayers”; a song highlighted by the sort of dreary, labored choir singing you might expect to hear at a solemn religious gathering. I mean that as a compliment, as it sounds like a deliberate choice, and one works perfectly. It also perfectly illustrates a possible explanation as to why the album succeeds in just about every area it could have. In the announcement of the album, the press release indicated that it was created during a time of real loss and grief for the men who created it, and that comes through in the finished product. Now, I’m not sure that it would be fair to pit genuine loss against something more hypothetical in a sort of depressing pissing contest, but I do think it’s fair to say that genuine, first-hand human sorrow can be a powerful source of inspiration for a metal album.
The result of all of this is a death metal album with extraordinary emotional depth. While the structure of each song is very straightforward, the melodies are rich and the feelings they conjure can be complex. Trying to put too fine a point on Nightfell’s sound is probably a fool’s errand. I could site doom, crust, Edge of Sanity or early Amorphis, the blackened fringes of melodic death metal and plenty in between and it would still come up short. That’s the brilliance of ‘The Living Ever Mourn’. It’s deceptively simple, and yet it reveals something you hadn't picked up on with each listen. Give it greater attention, and you will be rewarded.
Words by: Daniel Jackson
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