Beyond Terror Beyond Grace: Nadir

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Beyond Terror Beyond Grace: Nadir
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Beyond Terror Beyond Grace: Nadir
Atmospheric Black Metal, Death Metal
Willowtip Records
April 3rd, 2012
Release length: 45:21
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Beyond Terror Beyond Grace was originally formed as a pretty strong Death Metal and Grindcore outfit. However, for their 2012 Willowtip Records release, Nadir, the anticipated follow-up to 2010’s Our Ashes Built Mountains, all grinding has been removed, thoroughly alienating pretty much all of their existing fanbase. This Austrialian four-piece has decided to go a much darker and punishing route by turning themselves into an Atmospheric Black Metal group with Death Metal influences. Given how many bands already exist in the underground that come from the first part of this band’s new musical approach, as well as having already established what listeners should somewhat expect of them, Beyond Terror Beyond Grace is really going to have to pull something special out in order to make that big a case for acknowledgement in that field. So, does Nadir show a side of the band that really warranted such a change, or are we looking at another Abigail Williams, but this time entering into the growing cliche Black Metal style and not devolving?

While the production quality of this recording is still on a higher notch, it’s clear the band tried to go in the rawer direction with it. Unfortiunately, it doesn’t work out. The guitars end up reduced to a medium or higher pitched buzzing, depending on if it’s a solo or catchy lead. The bass is about the same, but does have a deeper sound to it, though doesn’t offer much of an impact. The bass kicks of the drum kit make more of an observable presence here, which works in favor of the placid music. The snares have a tighter sound that does come through a little louder than the other instruments, and the cymbals are on par or higher than that, and a bit more crisp. The main problem is that nothing here really has much of a bite, instead coming off quite dull with a strong atmospheric push that often doesn’t work out thanks to how uninspiring the music can be, as well as how insanely loud the drums are. Even the vocals leave a little more to be desired, though, for the most part, the mixture of higher rasps and deeper gutturals do sound good, but the latter doesn’t work out. It’s as if the entire album had a layer of something placed over it to make it all rather gray and lifeless musically, and even visually on a mental interpretation..

This becomes a huge problem considering some songs break the nine minute mark, and they all seem to be lumped together right at the start. “Dusk” does feature some enjoyable atmospheric moments, but only when the music slows down and the chords are a little cleaner against drums that lay off the bass kicks. You can get the sense that the song is meant to be rather bludgeoning from its furious pace, but doesn’t work out too well from the buzzing of the guitars trying to give off that rawer sense to the Black Metal style. This lasts for a little while after the half way mark, and you’ll hope it never stops, though sadly it does and the drums completely deter any impact the guitars are meant to make. Of course the toned down approach doesn’t help “Requiem for the Grey” too much, as when that passage hits at about the same time, the notes are left to the same distortion with simpler, unimpressive chords that fail to establish any atmosphere, and end up just dragging things out, even when it gets heavier a while on. However, some of the burdening moments of “Throatless Sirens” do work out well to create a rather punishing experience, though you may wind up laughing at what sounds like a raspy “la la la” in the background at some times, like around the four minute and twenty second mark, that is clearly being given off by an instrument that is too loud, or possibly the feedback from it. Either way, whatever it, it sounds god awful.

Unfortunately, the two shorter songs don’t really fair that well either. “Embracing Null” is a much better song overall than the first three, and it does have a stronger atmosphere you can get into at times. But, the guttural Death Metal vocals really do come off as distracting despite the style being blended in nicely with the Black Metal foundation. Had a tradition rasp approach, or even a distaint wail been used, it would hade the song a lot stronger all around. Yes, there are some higher pitches used later on in the track, but its just not enough. “The Blood of Time” is actually a slower track that does find some lead chords setting a decent environment to the song, and ends up a rather soothing experience outside a higher pitch to the audio that becomes a glaring annoyance towards the end, and the louder volume levels of the drum kit. That annoying, ear piercing sound carries on until the end of the song, as well as bleeds into the closing track “Pathea,” though long before it you will be scrambling for the skip track button just to make it end.

But, while those are good, it’s when the band is not attempting to be brutal, over-the-top with insanely long track lengths, or even trying to compose a regular song that they write the most impressive material. In fact, the band focuses on the crucial, most painfully and blatently obvious, as well as important element of the Atmospheric Black Metal approach, i.e. the atmosphere, during the shorter instrumentals. “Nadir” is a fantastic instrumental that finds the buzzing toned down to a somewhat cleaner sound similar, but not as cleas as the restrained passage in “Dusk.” This causes the drums to be held back from the semi-blast beat approach, and allows the environment that the chords have been trying to set on each and every track to shine through for the first, and really the only impressive time. It also opens with a muffled spoken word audio clip that plays out through the first minute and thirty five seconds of the song, which all acts as a guitar build up to the heavier, beautiful sounding music that is nicely accented by some machine gun-like lower bass kicks and cymbals, allowing the higher lead guitars to really make the tone of the music stronger in a very subtle way. Though not all of this can be said for the closing track “Pathea.” The shrill pitch from “The Blood of Time” carries on a little longer than it should but the song tries to set up an apocalyptic wasteland kind of environment. Using choir-like singing, buzzing flies, and blipping of channels met with radio static, the job is done well to paint this sort of picture in your mind, but its not enough to truly make you feel like you are there.

Unfortunately, Nadir is one of those albums that just doesn’t work out. For a sudden change of pace, and the first entry for it, Beyond Terror Beyond Grace does show some positive potential. The problem is that they don’t quite execute it right, and the audio doesn’t help things either. With the two short instrumentals really being the only thoroughly enjoyable atmospheric offerings, which only makes up roughly six minutes of the album, it’s hard to sit here and honestly say this is a good release. But, “Embracing Null” and “The Blood of Time” do show some positive promises from the band that the length-abusing first three songs just don’t have, being ruined by over extended material and the horrible production job. Given time and more focus, Beyond Terror Beyond Grace may be able to put out a good album, but for now, Nadir shows off how to not handle the Atmospheric Black Metal style, leaving you with a horribly mixed effort that, aside one instrumental, and possibly the other, you’ll not want to go back to this after the initial one or two spins.

01. Dusk – 8:41
02. Requiem for the Grey – 9:06
03. Throatless Sirens – 9:14
04. Nadir – 3:39
05. Embracing Null – 6:36
06. The Blood of Time – 5:28
07. Pathea – 2:36
Overall Score: 3/10

Digital review copy of this release provided by Willowtip Records.