Finnish black metal band Nephilim’s Howl have certainly hit the spot with their new album Through the Marrow of Human Suffering.
Although black metal is the nominal genre here, Nephilim’s Howl are far more interesting than your average 2017 model bm outfit. Powered by the superb drumming of AEK, whose at times tribal rhythm keeping is a cut above the usual clattering din, this band seem to draw as much from traditional metal and the shamanistic work of bands like The Birthday Party for their inspiration.
Opening track Void Reflections I – Remembrance features some saxophone playing as a point of difference, the instrument adding to the slightly other-worldly feel of the music. Second track Of Ordeals and Triumph is perhaps more what you’d expect from a band boasting heritage in the Finnish black metal scene; it’s a strident, but stately piece of battle metal, maintaining a steady but remorseless tempo as vocalist Reavhan unleashes a gothic performance that again shies away from black metal cliché by staying in a Glenn Danzig-style register throughout.
Hate Revelations also sounds more on the gothic/death rock side of things, and is slightly reminiscent of Swedish band Death Wolf. Droning, relentless riffs fill the air, with AEK again producing some exciting work behind the drumkit. Reavhan adopts a more desperate howl here, and despite the fact his lyrics are largely indecipherable at first listen the raw desperation in his delivery is completely clear to the listener. Though the music retains an icy aloofness, there are earthy emotions abroad within the overall sound. Halfway through this track the band explode into the first really recognisable ‘black metal’ passage, and the effect is doubled by the fact that everything else has been conducted at a more steady speed. Exceitement levels really increase when this happens.
Penultimate track Against the Worlds That Bind Us is a denser, more intrinsically intense song that has impact but not quite so much effectiveness, it’s doom laden riffs chiming a jangling orison to grief and depression as voiced by another convincing and original delivery by Reavhan, are excellent in the first half of the song but lose some definition and clarity in the second. The album closes with the three-part, twelve minute-long title track, which passes through so many moods and styles that offering a definitive list would double the size of this review. In summary, it’s safe to say that all human misery – as the title might suggest – is represented within its duration.
Nephilim’s Howl have created a very worthwhile and satisfying album with this release, and whilst there might be a little too much gothic feel for true black metal fans, people who simply like the dark side of humanity represented in musical form are going to really enjoy this.