Reviewed: November, 2018
Released: 2018, Self-released
Reviewer: Peter Atkinson
Nyctophobia, with a “c,” is the extreme or irrational fear of the night or darkness. Nyktophobia, with a “k,” is a blackened death metal band from Germany whose epic, old school sound is paired with a thematic air that has more to do with legends from under the sea – as you can probably surmise from the title of this the band’s second album – than whatever horrors the Sandman might have in store.
The band features Polish frontman Tomasz Wisniewski (also of Dawn of Disease, and owner of Apostasy Records) and former Dawn of Disease drummer Christian Timmer, who also plays with guitarist Phillip Reuter in Extinction, Battlesword/Resurrected bassist Ben Bays and guitarist Michael Tybußek, who has cut his teeth with a host of bands. So there’s a bit of a supergroup thing going on here, albeit on a more obscure level than, say, Bloodbath.
The band’s ambitious rabble recalls the gallop and grit of Amon Amarth yet with the technical flair and atmospherics of vintage Emperor – at least in the numerous fleet “trem” guitar runs, there really isn’t much if anything in the way of symphonics here, despite the overall conceptual grandeur. “Ballad of Neptune” kicks things off with Timmer’s double-bass salvos leading the way and Wisniewski’s burly growl topping it off. It’s a ballad in title only, as the song rips. So does much that follows.
“Taken By Storm” opens with some gloomy effects and doomy riffs, but it too is soon charging headlong into the abyss, though with a some cool martial breaks. “Pillars of Hercules,” which follows, however, does slow things down to a mid-tempo chug, allowing the majestic sweep of Tybußek and Reuter’s guitaring to shine through. But the title track launches the band back into “blackened” territory and it’s off to the races again.
The instrumental “Riders of the Surging Billows,” however, mixes in some Iron Maiden-like guitar harmonies, which is never a bad thing, especially when it’s done with the surprising grace Tybußek and Reuter show here. And it sets the tone for the album’s back third, with much of the black metal fury giving way to more classic metal dynamism on the bruising “Trident of Doom” and “Realms of Hades.”
It makes for a truly epic, resounding end, and the transition actually seems quite natural, hardly slowing the momentum the band built to that point. And Fate is really all about momentum, racing through its nine-track journey beneath the waves in a lean and certainly mean 34 minutes. The usual conceptual trappings are nowhere to be found here, and that too is never a bad thing.