Released: 2013, Hells Headbangers Records
Reviewer: Metal-Rules.com UK Team
It’s funny how not having come across a band before immediately makes you think they’re new on the scene, take Zemial for instance. Their story is a complicated one, but in a nutshell the band are a duo of Greek origin led by Vorskaath who pretty much runs the show and is supported by his brother Eskarth. They’re not new kids on the block either, having been around for some 24 years and having already racked up ten albums and EP’s before this one.
Practice makes perfect they say and this latest offering may not quite be black metal utopia but it certainly hits the spot more often than not. In fact Zemial offer so much with their music that I wonder at their apparent obscurity. ‘Nykta’ could well at least go some way to righting this wrong purely by allowing an accessibility into the often dark and mysterious world of gloom and corpse paint.
What we have with this album is a kind of black metal lite, a way for people to get a handle on a much maligned genre and at the same time appreciate a fine work in its own right.
With tracks varying in length from a standard three minutes to a whopping quarter of an hour the thing that surprises is the comfortable way everything fits together. Clearly a man with a vision Vorskaath has retained the genre’s freedom from conventional constraints (traditional verse, chorus, verse) but at the same time keeps the flow and interest alive by skilful intelligent writing and adventurous performing. Centre piece ‘Pharos’ could so easily fall flat because of its extreme length but is in fact a very listenable mini orchestral marvel, showing off the band to their full potential. If anything it is the shorter more standard songs like ‘Deathspell’ that feel compressed and slightly underwhelming which is a bit of a surprise.
Ardent fans of black metal may feel ‘Nykta’ to be a little bit too conservative but those with a wider musical outlook will warm to the way it keeps one foot firmly planted in traditional metal. Even the vocals have an air of compromise about them, relatively speaking that is.
There are so many mediocre albums released that when a superior one comes along it’s often a matter of luck as to how successful it is, and ‘Nykta’ needs that bit of luck because it deserves to be heard. Fingers crossed that Zemial may be about to step out of the shadows, because they’ve been in them way too long.
Review by Gary Trueman