Neithan : Previous album ‘Central-A-Triangle’ was a bomb shell, especially for fans of technical aggressive Swedish black metal like old Marduk and Dark Funeral. ‘Common Graves’ is the third album of this Ukrainian band, on the Noizr label this time: a label that recently surprised me with Sectorial’s sophomore album. There is something lurking in this region… And so, the expectations on my side are high, even if the band has now a three person line-up since guitarist VX is out of the band.
Should you have expected a more primitive raw sound because of the reduction of the line-up to three, then you are wrong. No album of Nabaath sounds the same, and ‘Common Graves’ is no exception to that. Straight at the opening ‘Dark Is Deep’ there is a first development: a menacing doom atmosphere, combined with atmospheric guitar arrangements. But after that opening song, it is clear that this new album is at least as intense as its predecessor, just with much more technique and far far away from the primitive death/black of the debut ‘Back From Beyond’. Maybe you could see this album as a next step from ‘Nabat (Over The Ladoga Mist)’, with a lot of very high tempo arrangements.
The development towards a more technical approach of the genre of extreme metal is displayed on ‘Iron In Your Throat’, which starts slow but soon turns into an insanely fast played song. Some of the new epic arrangements make me think a bit of a melodic adaptation of what a band like Taake does in Norwegian black metal, also because of the bridges from introvert to extravert and from slow to very fast for instance, but it does not sound like Taake one moment. The guitar arrangements are much more atmospheric and sometimes dreamlike than ever, and the vocals a bit more eerie. In the slower parts, Nabaath is more oppressive than ever, and when they go for top speed, I do mean speed! Maybe the music is a bit less ‘evil’ than it used to be, but ‘Common Graves’ has much more variation and menace and I do not believe the contract between slow and fast has ever been that strong. The old single (2013) ‘Nuclear Satan’ fits more to the previous album than to this third album, and thus stands a bit alone from the other songs on this album.
The sound is good and sincere: no over the top studio tricks but a sincere band sound, even with one guitarist less (curious how they will solve this live on stage). No more is Nabaath pure black metal, more a mix of black and extreme metal, with a very dark nature. Extremity and musical skills are not necessarily opponents, and Nabaath is proof of that on this excellent album. The only point of criticism is that the band doesn’t have points of “hey, that element is spot on Nabaath” but only very few bands have that, so that is not a thing to be ashamed of. This is a very interesting album to those who love extreme metal in the huge area somewhere between a band like Morbus Chron (R.I.P.) and Taake played at a high instrumental level.