Nattsvermer – Nattsvermer
Rob Mules Records
Release Date: 22/09/23
Running Time: 40:08
Review by Dark Juan
It astounds Dark Juan sometimes that people, when there is an incredibly diverse world out there absolutely bursting at the seams with untold wonders, that people will voluntarily stick themselves in a narrow rut or strictures of their own devising. Dark Juan once lived in a town in West Wales called Newcastle Emlyn and there were people there, who were advanced in age, who had never set foot out of the Teifi Valley and indeed had only been as far as Cardigan or Carmarthen. This is astonishing. Why would you not wish to explore and experience different cultures, languages, and ways of life? Of course, they are able to exercise their personal choice, and if they desire to live in the narrow confines of a lack of imagination that is fine, but that kind of spiritual stagnation is anathema to the soaring spirit of Dark Juan.
It’s the same with music. To deny yourself the joys of different genres or styles because you only listen to Metal, or Industrial, or whatever is to deny yourself true enjoyment. Again, you are free to exercise your choice, but it is something Dark Juan will never wrap his grey matter around, which is why Dark Juan is musically promiscuous. My music collection runs from the most extreme music I can find through to Jane Weidlin’s magnificently airheaded bubblegum Pop, through to the most baroque Classical I can lay my greasy mitts on. This is why the Platter Of Splatter™ has been fired up and is spinning the debut offering of Norwegian Alt Metallers Nattsvermer.
First, a disclaimer – Dark Juan is out of his comfort zone here. Alt Metal is not something Dark Juan listens to a huge amount of, and therefore doesn’t really have a frame of reference to operate in. So, with that in mind, let’s see if Dark Juan can actually write something that is informative and interesting…
The first thing that strikes Dark Juan is the sheer SERIOUSNESS of Nattsvermer. They are not a band who operate with an impish sense of humour, or a tongue-in-cheek aspect or a knowing wink to the listener. They are laser-focused on the music, which is a reasonably interesting mélange of the likes of Godsmack, Alter Bridge and Pantera with an admixture of Metallica-style thrash dynamics at times. It’s a very 2000s sounding record, indeed. After the intro has passed us by, we start the record prop-er with ‘Devil’s Den’ which is… uninspiring. Yes, there’s chunky riffing (with a vastly overproduced guitar sound) and a decent vocal performance from André Tornes, but it’s all a bit bland and uninspired. Things do look up mightily on ‘Controlled’, however, which is a bloody good stompalong that will get people dancing in short order with a catchy as fuck riff and a massive chorus.
‘Polaris’, though, is a different kettle of fish. It’s a power ballad. Everyone who is a regular reader of the nonsense I spew out on a fairly regular basis will be aware of Dark Juan’s opinion that power ballads a) belong in the 1980s, b) should have ended with Heart’s ‘Alone’ and Skid Row’s ‘18 And Life’ because they represent the absolute apogee of these nauseating wankfests, and c) they are generally nauseating wankfests. Unless Beth-Ami Heavenstone has written it, and then it is the greatest song ever created besides the Sisters Of Mercy’s ‘Some Kind Of Stranger’ and Godflesh’s ‘Slateman’. It is an awful example of power ballad horrendousness that, as well as being a power ballad and therefore being utterly hateful, has structural and production issues where the electric guitar overwhelms everything on a number of occasions and the vocals can barely be heard. Power ballads suck so many balls they should be charging for it in a back alley just off Sunbridge Road in Bradford.
There is a small musical interlude called ‘Rash’ that comes after ‘Polaris’, and this is peculiarly apt as Dark Juan has come out in a particularly unpleasant one after hearing ‘Polaris’ and requires an analgesic cream to soothe the irritation. ‘Breathe’ starts off like another power ballad and Dark Juan was getting ready to be insulting because two power ballads on one album is NOT CRICKET but then the band engage in a little bit of electric alchemy a couple of minutes in and turn the song into a speedy, Thrash-flavoured monster with a nice little break that got this Hellpriest’s head nodding in an almost enthusiastic fashion.
I have to be honest – although the band clearly sound earnest and honest on this debut full-length, they also sound like they are trying too hard. Their edginess is the edginess of a band wanting desperately to be liked, and it comes across as faintly desperate sounding – there are times when ambition outstrips performance and when samples overpower everything else being played. The record also does not benefit from the extremely clean production it has, which is a rare thing – Dark Juan is of the opinion that Nattsvermer would benefit from a dirtier, thicker production. It needs beer and kebab stains and the smell of engine oil, raw petrol and the sound of V-twin engines echoing through the dark. As the album progresses, there is a distinct reliance on Black Album Metallica-esque chugging which is most noticeable on ‘Bad Knee’, which also references much Alter Bridge in the middle eight and chorus.
The album closes with the band’s name and title track, ‘Nattsvermer’, and this is a Punk-infused Metal song that hits all the right notes and sees the band relaxing at last into their performances and this makes a massive difference in the quality of the song – here is where you hear the band gain confidence and oozing insouciance and snotty attitude, which the rest of the record was lacking.
Don’t get me wrong. I am a music critic and therefore will do exactly what it says on the tin. There is a quality to the band, which I can’t quite put my finger on, which makes them extremely likeable and Dark Juan really does feel like he’s kicking the musical equivalent of puppies right now. “Nattsvermer” is enjoyable if you love early Noughties Alt Metal with a tincture of Thrash, but if you are a connoisseur of extremity, you probably ain’t gonna love this band.
To summarise then – Nattsvermer have delivered a debut that has promise, but the band needs to discover their own sound rather than aping the bands and sounds of twenty years ago. The songs are generally acceptable, but they are nothing special and the whole album has left Dark Juan a bit disappointed and unfulfilled. Nattsvermer can do considerably better, and they are a young band, so Dark Juan expects great things in the future.
The Patented Dark Juan Blood Splat Rating System (det patenterte Dark Juan blodsprut-vurderingssystemet for våre norske lesere) awards 5/10 for a record that has promise but tries too hard to be liked. Kind of like Dark Juan in that regard then…
02. Devil’s Den
04. Voice Inside
07. Lost In Life
08. Mistress Of Defeat
09. Bad Knee
André Tornes – Guitar, vocals
Kent Robin Kjærstad – Guitar
Runar Haukalid Jensen – Drums
Amalie Trædal -Bass
Disclaimer: This review is solely the property of Dark Juan and Ever Metal. It is strictly forbidden to copy any part of this review, unless you have the strict permission of both parties. Failure to adhere to this will be treated as plagiarism and will be reported to the relevant authorities.