Review: NightmarerDeformity Adrift

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Nightmarer - Deformity Adrift album art

All Nightmarer Long

Nightmarer was a band I heard about 5 years ago after the release of their first full length record Cacophony of Terror. Being into dissonant death metal, I gave it a shot and by the end felt… neutral about it. It was a perfectly enjoyable album, but it was just good—I wasn’t really impressed with it. A year later in 2019 I heard again about this mysterious disso-death band. This time I heard they had a slight lineup change, adding Keith Merrow to the band as a guitarist. Wait a minute… that Keith Merrow? Now this had caught my attention.

For those who are unaware, Keith Merrow is primarily known for his exceptional songwriting and fantastic guitar work on his solo releases. At this point, I still wasn’t sure about Nightmarerbut with renewed interest after hearing about Keith, I patiently awaited their next major release. The year is now 2023 and Nightmarer has returned from the darkness with their sophomore record Deformity Adrift. Buckle up because this one is seriously something to behold.

The record begins with a build-up in intensity, cloaking the listener in darkness and mist until it finally explodes. A flurry of dissonant, highly distorted guitars and supersonic drums come screaming out of the speakers. Now this is pod racing this is exactly what I was hoping for. The record takes no prisoners, it shows no mercy, and most importantly it’s a monumental improvement over what we’ve heard from Nightmarer previously. The songwriting is the real star of the show here; it’s highly complex yet remains very easy to listen to. It has massive, grandiose soundscapes, highly technical guitar work, and a rhythm section that keeps the listener engaged and on track for the entire duration. The tracks flow together flawlessly to create a complete experience best enjoyed by listening to the album from front to back. The only other way I know to describe listening to it is that it feels as if I’m being taken on a guided tour through the creation of a universe. There are moments of beauty that peak through the thick layer of palpable darkness to then get swallowed back into the hellish depths of the void.

Diving a bit into the track list, our first exposure to this sonic behemoth of an album is “Brutalist Imperator”, an absolutely crushing track that sets the theme for the rest of the record. The first thing I noticed was the production—it’s enormous, the imaging and sound staging are phenomenal. Instruments and vocals surround the listener; the guitars especially make heavy use of stereo panning which works perfectly combined with the incredibly spacious mix. There’s a lot to digest with this song; it’s filled to the brim with layers upon layers of dissonant guitar riffs and distorted guttural vocals; it practically begs the listener to run back through it again. Much the same can be said for the rest of the track list. Each song feels like an intentional continuation of the last and certain themes and motifs evolve as the record continues.

“Baptimsal Tomb” is the second track on our journey and this one is brutal, in the best way possible. With blast beats, tempo changes, and even more dissonance, this one feels like a continuation of the last but with more intensity. It almost crosses over into being overwhelmingly dense and that feeling continues to build until it suddenly drops into a change-up. The listener emerges into an eerie, almost jazzy section, like a sort of intermission to breathe and settle before the insanity continues. Then with a slam of the drums, that same intensity comes barreling back, obliterating any sense of sanity or safety gained during the intermission. Track after track it continues, guiding the listener through an ever-expanding labyrinth filled with agony and despair.

Truly grasping and digesting each of the songs is a monumental yet highly rewarding task for those willing to embark on it. The beauty of this record, however, is that you don’t need to—it’s just as fun to sit back, relax, and enjoy the ride. As a matter of fact, that is my recommendation. For those who dare, it delivers a journey with tons of replayability, and for those who don’t, the best parts are practically served up on a silver platter for your enjoyment.

Overall, this record is very dense, and demands multiple listening sessions to truly digest. With that in mind, the total run time is perfect. At 33 minutes long it’s a quick listen; I enjoyed it thoroughly with just one spin. However, it’s with the second and third round that I really began to grasp the enormity of the project as a whole. I can only begin to imagine, let alone speculate the amount of time and effort that needs to be put into a record of this scale. It’s safe to say that everyone put everything that they had into it, and it paid off tenfold. Given that it’s also very enjoyable on a surface level, I’m not afraid to rate it highly. As such it gets…

4 out ov 5 cosmic flaming toilets, and 4.5 after a couple more listening sessions

Deformity Adrift will be available on May 5th via Total Dissonance Worship and Vendetta Records.

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