Sunday, October 26, 2014

…your time has come: NIGHT GAUNT – ‘Night Gaunt’

For at least the past three decades Italy has been a wellspring for some of the finest doom that the genre has to offer. The music is often creative and progressive and can be, at times, even challenging for the uninitiated. Groups like Black Hole, Paul Chain, Requiem, The Black, Bretus, and Doomraiser, just to name a few, have explored the possibilities of doom while leaving an indelible mark on the form. Joining the ranks of this amazing roster is Rome’s Night Gaunt, a band who plays it a bit straighter than many of their contemporaries, but to no less effect.

Night Gaunt’s self-titled debut represents what is best in traditional doom. The somewhat lo-fi production found on ‘Night Gaunt’ does not interfere with the tunes and effectively contributes to the sepulchral atmosphere of the album. The main result is that the guitars come across as gritty and somewhat harsh compared to other traditionalists of the form, but this gives Night Gaunt a unique edge. Guitarist and vocalist Gc has an excellent voice that is slightly buried in the mix. Often sounding like a blend of Peter Murphy and Dawn of Winter’s Gerrit P. Mutz (particularly on album-opener “Persecution”), Gc occasionally adds sinister grunts and an infrequent growl to the proceedings.

A sinister, tomb-like dissonance seems to lurk about on many of the tracks. The intro to “Persecution” is rife with discordant strums before the tune settles into a mid-tempo stagger. Gc ‘s vocal delivery on this track really stands out as he often inflects his voice with a slightly theatrical, yet ominous quaver, a technique that is also effectively used on the closing track, “Acquiescent Grave”.

While lurching riffs and a dank, crypt-like atmosphere bleeds into a majority of the tracks of the album, Night Gaunt is capable of ripping-it-up with some blistering tunes. The one-two punch of the eponymous instrumental, “Night Gaunt”, coupled with the following track, “Black Velvet”, is capable of getting the adrenaline flowing. In addition to just flat-out rocking, “Black Velvet” has some of the album’s most memorable riffs accompanied by devilish vocals and some Sabbathesque swing.

Night Gaunt have unleashed a stellar debut that is dark, dingy, and exemplifies the epitome of doom. Ultimately this is a traditional doom album, but Night Gaunt have pushed their instruments into the red without sounding completely overblown or unlistenable. Fans of Funeral Circle, Dawn of Winter, The Wounded Kings, or even The Grave will find a lot to dig on ‘Night Gaunt’. Hopefully this album will see a physical release in the near future. Killer stuff…



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