Review – Eye of Nix: Black Somnia

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  • Bio: "EYE OF NIX first began to create abrasive yet kaleidoscopic sounds together in 2012. Current members vocalist Joy Von Spain, guitarist Nicholas Martinez, bassist Zach Wise (Hissing), noise artist Masaaki Masao and drummer Luke Laplante strive to conjure music that's threatening, beautiful, and harsh." - Facebook
  • Label: Scrye Records
  • Release Date: December 15th, 2017
  • Genre: Blackened Doom Metal, Sludge
  • Website: Visit Website
  • Rating (out of 10):

Originally formed in 2012, avant-garde blackened psych-doom act Eye of Nix stormed on the scene a year later with their well celebrated demo recording. In the time that followed, the band expanded beyond the normal four to five-minute track length and further explored their sound to become the abrasive act they are come their debut full-length effort Moros. Another two years later and we find the evolution continuing with their latest album Black Somnia, being handled by both the band and Scrye Recordings on vinyl and digital mediums. With a scrutinous eye hovering above them since, has the four-piece outfit reached a new plain of existence, or have they gone back on their recently discovered output?

Eye of NixWhile Moros had more an operatic touch to it, especially in the vocals, Black Somnia presents a much darker, more visceral and out-of-body experience. The audio still sticks with more of an analog approach, which perfectly suits the polarizing opposites that make up this release. “Wound and Scar” pulls the rawer audio quality upfront, draping it in an explosive blackened blanket that surrounds the growing isolation and intimidating female rasps that channel both the apparent overtone with a hardcore authority that continues to grow the deeper in you get. This atmosphere is matched only by the hostile performance that tears away at the ear drums, driven by the blistering drums that eventually fade into more of a spiritual rhythm on “Fears Ascent”. The vocals take on that operatic tone again, channelling a psychedelic b-movie tone that feels like the polar opposite of how everything began, dropping an avant-Black Anvil approach for that of a The Devil’s Blood or Jess and the Ancient Ones hymnal.

“Lull” is a different story all together though. The softer guitars and hea ily echoed drums pull you right into the sixties and seventies era of progressive rock, all while the enchanting clean tribal vocals hypnotize you out of the realm of the living and lingering with the dead. What follows takes on a slower psychedelic ritualism that distorts everything like a voodoo ceremony that wraps with male shouting and some increased intensity that reminds you you’re not done with that proggy foundation before being cat off into a sea of oblivion, fading to black. Had this been the proper conclusion to Black Somnia, it would have been the most fitting given how you traverse between hostility and zen. Sadly in concept, “A Hideous Visage” ends with a sludgy doom metal presence once more that is as unnerving as it is clearly fueled by horror films and their atmosphere, particularly of the Italian nationality. While a good song with additional noise and effects added for intimidation, it just feels misplaced on the album as a whole, taking away from the solid flow each performance built up prior.

Eye of NixBlack Somnia is a solid album that only really ends up faulted by the placement of one or two songs. Other than that the analog traits build up and carry some of the best environments Eye of Nix have come up with thus far, elevating this follow-up effort well above the prior debut outing. The avant-garde elements only really apply to the underlying styles being incorporated in it. This isn’t a rocky ride that throws you from one side of the carriage to the other, but something better left as a best of with a conceptual goal, and that’s perfectly fine in this case. Extensive performances mesh seamlessly to bridge one particular sound with another to pay homage to the early doom and prog rock sounds while refusing to clinch it teeth and hold back the relentless nature that drives the band, making this late 2017 offering one well worth experiencing.

Eye of NixDigital review copy of this release provided by Scrye Recordings via Earsplit PR.