Review: NMK — Ravenous Spectre
Let’s start with my conclusion: NMK‘s debut, Ravenous Spectre, is a melodeath gem!
After a couple of weeks around Lima I realized my knowledge about metal over here is ZERO. Shame on me, I know. However, it seems the magical flows on these wild lands runs in mysterious ways and brought to my attention just three capital letters: NMK.
A couple of listens later this unexpected discovery, let me introduce to you what Ravenous Spectre exudes in every corner of its concave body filled with empathetic sound. In the surface, NMK debut is a cocoon of pure and great melodic death metal, but once you peel out the veil, there are a couple of touches here and there that incentivizes further meditations.
Led by the charismatic vocalist Nathalie Markoch, the band is completed by a healthy coven of musical acolytes that imprint their own steps into an interesting musical tapestry. Sure, bountiful melodeath riffing is aptly disposed on their cryptic canvas, but their style is also permeated by traces of thrash and even progressive metal, enough to convince the most exclusivist melodic seeker.
Starting with an ominous introduction, nicely titled “Awareness”, the listener is immediately bombarded by a espacious line of guitar harmonies provided by Elias Checco and Carlos Rocca. At this very beginning, the first thing that opens the attention is the clean and professional sound, carefully crafted by the band itself and the holy hand inside the Fascination Street Studios factory, now famous for their work with Amorphis, Soilwork, At The Gates and Arch Enemy, among another huge list of big names.
Thus entering further into the track listing, the spiritual carnage initiates. “Outrage” is the song that introduces Nathalie’s furious expressionism. The singer howls, growls and Expands in grandiose vocalization the spaces between the riffing. Her range is open wide enough to handle the personality of her voice, marked by a heavy vibrato which situates her in the very border of the classic heavy metal reign and the symphonic metal stylings.
Guitar work manages to support the rock bottom groove provided by the tight rhythmic section, powered by an all-audible bass which pops out wonderfully behind the percussive riffs. The vocal hooks and the tight instrumentation is crossed by a caustic soloing battle that will give enough reason to love the piece to all those guitar maniacs.
First impression matters and NMK understand it. After this heavy metal assault the clouds get harsher during “Lack of Judgment”, the first Ravenous Spectre single, elevates every aspect that made “Outrage” a great opening. Catchiness, virtuosity and the rich expressive voice collides within a higher speed framework and a in-your-face At the Gates like punctuated explosive riffs. Besides the playful and highly energetic nature of the tune, Nathalie introduces dual vocalization in a great way, trading her operatic clean voice with a surprising and perfectly articulated deep growl.
Continuing the album timeline, the band offers “Condemned to Existence” another track that toys with the melodeath riffing. However there are some drumming changes which gifts the track a different personality. Choruses switch again to viral segments, that ends along a ripping high tone.
The first side of “Ravenous Spectre” is closed by “Bloodstream”, a gloomy down tempo ballad which bubbles enough darkness to grasp during its short time duration. The interlude serves as a well-needed quick rest between the rampant metallic blocks.
The second part, however, explores a little bit more the progressive roots of all the members of the band and incorporates more rhythmic exchanges on certain songs to develop more variety on their magical pentagram. This is patent on “Backhand Game”, “Let Them Come” and “Ravenous Spectre”, three nice tracks in which the late-At The Gates inspired riffing of the first segment is now faced with a more moody progressive palette.
Between these waves of groove there is another uplifting music moment in the form of “The Fraud”, a quasi-power metal demonstration of monstrous catchiness and unexpected energic bursts, provided by the hooks and turns of Nathalie Markoch vocals, which seems to get bigger and bigger in the epic chorus. Closing the album is “The Dark Night of the Soul”, an outro featuring an even more haunting ambience than the previous interlude.
Perhaps, the only gripe some listeners may have with Ravenous Spectre are the synthetic drums and the riffing motif present in several songs, but at least for me, it did not distract my mind on the constant listening. The band was capable enough to incorporate various movements inside the songs to shake a little more the metrics of the track-listing. Also, the slower pieces are not mere fillers, as they serve the purpose of letting the running time to breathe between the fast metal times.
Sure, the rapid fire of the song selection will inspire the melodic hunters to come and check what this Peruvian cult can do, but I believe the merit of the NMK debut is way higher than the mere task of position the band as a great melodic band (Which they are!), but there is certain artistry behind the lyrics and overall concept about self-consciousness awakening that puts them above the average act in this niche. The result is very concise in terms of aesthetic and music, besides there is sufficient expressionism and symbolism inside the good musicality of this young band, an infectious passion that starts with the incredible Nathalie Markoch’s vocals, goes through the solid rhythmic section and ends with the ripping guitar duo.
All in all, NMK’s Ravenous Spectre is a well rounded impressive debut. It is a perfect recommendation for all the melodic seekers out there that wish for a honest, concise and professional sounding album! Therefore, I summon 4 flaming toilets in their honor.
Follow NMK on social media and throw a couple of “¡Hola!” from this Elfic magical entity. Remember to buy the physical version on their web store and listen to their digital version on Bandcamp, Spotify, iTunes and Amazon Music.