The Nighthold


All in all, VARGRAV's "The Nighthold" has its moments of brightness but it ultimately didn't hold my interest for very long. This certainly not a bad album but it's one I won't revisit often.

VARGRAV is a black metal band from Finland who formed in 2015; “The Nighthold” is their third full-length album, in addition to having an EP. The band’s brand of black metal is symphonic, and in cases such as the intro “Moonless Abyss of the Nighthold,” can be quite playful and even whimsical. However, their sound is still very much black metal oriented; their symphonic leanings don’t detract from the intensity or water down their sound. Their symphonics/keys aren’t overly bombastic, however. They are treated as equal to the other instruments, acting as an integral part of the music rather than background filler.

While definitely not shiny or pristine, the production isn’t as raw as some black metal but that works better because with such lush symphonics, too rough of a production would not only bury them but also keep them from their vibrant displays. After the intro, the first full length song, “Through The Woods of Breathing Shadows,” opens with a cacophony of drums just before the song goes full speed ahead. The keys are energetic and compliment the guitars and drums as they double down on the intensity. The keys are majestic and sweeping but the intensity of the riffs and drums always keep the song grounded.

Thy Imperial Malice,” reaches for a climax straight from the beginning, like a rocket blasting through the air that shows no signs of slowing down. The chant-like keys lend the song an ethereal feel even as the black metal parts threaten to tear it down. “Triumph of the Nightbringer,” is one of the best songs on the album, due to it’s Gothic atmosphere that sounds like a much more underground CRADLE OF FILTH, at least to a degree and without the over the top vocals. The beginning build up nicely and the crisp, fast drums are accented by the keys in such a way the song is just theatrical enough without being corny.

Unfortunately, the album isn’t without fault. With twelve tracks and about an hour of runtime, it’s a bit too long for this style. This is especially noticeable because a couple of the tracks are nothing more than filler. “Curse of the Plaguewood Lake,” “Into The Shadow Crypts,” and the final track “Ghostlands” are nothing more than ominous noise that don’t add anything to the album other than unnecessary padding, especially considering “Ghostlands” is almost ten minutes in length…ten whole minutes of absolutely nothing going. Take away those tracks and the album is a much tighter nine minute trek with a much more palpable 45 (or so) runtime.

Out of the remaining songs, none of them are actually bad per say, but only the symphonic elements really stand out. Like I mentioned, the songs are still fast and raging but outside of the symphonic keyes, it all begins to blend in rather quickly. All in all, VARGRAV's "The Nighthold" has its moments of brightness but it ultimately didn't hold my interest for very long. This certainly not a bad album but it's one I won't revisit often.

6 / 10

Had Potential








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"The Nighthold" Track-listing:
  1. Moonless Abyss of the Nighthold
  2. Through the Woods of Breathing Shadows
  3. Chalice of Silver and Blood
  4. Thy Imperial Malice
  5. Curse of the Plaguewood Lake
  6. Encircle the Spectral Dimension
  7. Triumph of the Nightbringer
  8. Into the Shadow Crypts
  9. The One Who Lurks Beyond the Starscape
  10. A Dark Consecration
  11. Creator of the True Realm
  12. Ghostlands
Vargrav Lineup:

v-Khaoz Stormrage - Keyboards
Graf Werwolf von Armageddon - Vocals
Trollhorn of the Black Harvest - Bass, Guitars
Baron M. Tarwonen - Drums

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