Album: Night Eternal
Genre: Black Metal
Release Date: July 28th, 2023
For Fans Of: Lamp Of Murmuur, Immortal, Gaerea
Alghol is a one-man black metal band from Maine. The group’s 2021 release, The Osseous Key, was a weird release. Upon first listen it seemed like a competent yet forgettable album. However, the record quickly sunk into my mind. While Alghol’s brand of black metal does feel generic, the songs are so well written, professionally performed, and elegant that the record turned into a standard bearer for what default black metal could be. Now, with Night Eternal, Alghol has to follow that up.
First, the band did not attempt some massive stylistic change here. This is still default black metal, for all of the good and bad aspects of that approach. Pounding drums, haunting piano, howling vocals with healthy reverb wrapped up in a production that is quite clear for this style of music. None of the songs last too long, there isn’t a drop of prog or death or post anything in here. Outside of some moments that venture into a more black-and-roll sound, this is straight down the middle.
The piano sticks out, but not in a bad way. Rather than sounding like an effect taped onto the side of a song, all of the passages on Night Eternal sound like they were written with either the piano or its conspicuous absence in mind. While this isn’t the biggest accomplishment in the world, it does speak to Alghol’s natural-as-breath songwriting disposition. There is piano here, because of course there is. The music would sound weird without it. Except when it’s gone, in which case that still makes complete sense because Alghol have managed to create an archetypal sound.
Let’s continue with the riffs. Night Eternal’s riffs have been echoing around in my skull for weeks now. The songwriting throughout the record is concise and memorable. Sometimes the guitar takes the lead alone and sometimes the piano joins in; Alghol seems to have no problem writing anywhere within the bounds of the instruments that they’ve chosen. Night Eternal feels like an album that can stick around for quite a while on the strengths of songwriting fundamentals alone.
Those songwriting fundamentals end up being quite a lifesaver for Alghol, because without them there isn’t much here. When it comes to black metal, there have been quite a few quality releases this year. A cursory review reveals that Night Eternal is competing with quality releases from Arnaut Pavle, Lamp Of Murmuur, (sort of) Thy Catafalque, Aara, Ashen Horde, Enslaved, Sarcoptes, Tsjuder, Hellripper, Liturgy, and many other bands that I couldn’t find within ten seconds. Everything Night Eternal does well, at least one of these records does better. Yes, there is a blend of styles and someone who is listening to Alghol could be repelled by something like Liturgy. The point remains: This is a large genre, and the blunt truth is that Night Eternal doesn’t separate itself from the crowd.
The flip side of that is also true. Night Eternal has a higher floor than most of those records, and does something better than them as well. I prefer the vocals on Night Eternal to the vocals on Triade III, the production to the production on Antimony or Saturnian Bloodstorm, and this release has nestled into my brain far better than Heimdal ever has. I suspect that Night Eternal, like its predecessor, will end up being a record that I will listen to for a long time not by excelling at any one aspect of its sound, but by being good enough at everything to always be worth listening to regardless of what I’m in the mood for.
Alghol will not change anyone’s mind about their genre preferences. Nothing on Night Eternal is special in any aspect other than quality. But that’s enough here, like it was on The Osseous Key. If you liked Alghol’s last release, or if you didn’t listen to it but are into black metal, absolutely check out Night Eternal. This guy just knows how to write.
- The Witch Doctor
- Noxious Opulence
- Into Untold Evil
- This Infernal River
- What Lies Within
- Out From The Jungle
- The Heart Of Darkness
- Night Eternal
Total Playing Time: 39:32