ALBUM REVIEW – “Suspiria’ by Nightmares

Many people are likely unaware that horror movies were (at least partly) responsible for the creation of heavy metal as a genre of music. Back in the twilight months of the 60s a young blues rock band were inspired by a Boris Karloff horror flick called Black Sabbath to start making ‘scary’ music. Soon after an LP of the same name, the first ever heavy metal album, was released. The latest Rise Records metalcore hopefuls, Nightmares, are clearly similarly inspired by screen depictions of things that go bump in the night, and such influences are worn on their sleeve in Suspiria, this extending from the horror soundtrack feeling of much of the music to the song titles and lyrics.

The fusion of groove-based metalcore with gothic sound effects inevitably invites comparison to Motionless in White and The Defiled, while the theatricality they wholeheartedly embrace recalls labelmates Crown the Empire. However, Nightmares seemingly lack the deftness of hand to string diverse elements together in the same way as those bands, and the resulting album is a mess. Its first third has some great moments – ‘Frontiers’ is an effective opener with high-energy riffs bursting out of an atmospheric intro as well as a memorable sung chorus, these strengths then built upon in album-best track ‘Let the Right One In’. Tyler Carter drops by to add some delicious guest vocals to ‘In the Mouth of Madness’, but the more accessible song is strong enough to be hugely enjoyable in its own right.

From there, everything gets a bit convoluted, with Nightmares attempting to ram as many different moods into Suspiria as possible. Flitting precariously between repetitive deathcore (‘Cujo’), post-rock textures (‘Enter the Void’), electronic kookiness (‘The Tommyknockers’) and even moments that border on pop punk in ‘Hands of the Ripper’, they bounce between styles so disparate a semblance of this being one unified body of work is impossible. The confusion is further compounded by quality discrepancies between aspects of each song – ‘Enter the Void’ for instance built on a magnificent, John Murphy-esque soundscape, but its amateur lyrics completely let it down. ‘Irreversible’ on the other hand features compellingly feral vocals, but relies too heavily on ham-fisted breakdown sections.

Exciting moments (the aforementioned opening run aside, the title track has a brilliant spidery riff and epic ascending background synths) are sprinkled too thinly across Suspiria, the schizophrenic middle that makes up the bulk of it too inconsistent and jarring. An incoherent mess of good and bad comes together to create an album that’s intriguing in parts but with too much poor quality material to really compete with the best of the genre. Disappointingly closer to a straight-to-DVD B-movie than a Halloween smash hit, it’s highly unlikely to inspire as much reverence as that other horror movie inspired metal debut, released forty four years ago.

Rating: 5 / 10

[Michael Bird]

‘In the Mouth of Madness’

‘Let the Right One In’

 

Nightmares

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