Forget the last few decades, nothing in the last 30 years will have any bearing on what Nigromante are doing. For the crazy Heavy Metal fiends from Madrid worship true, unadulterated heavy metal, from a time when the music was still in its relative infancy, and bands were just finding their own way.
There are no bombastic keyboards, no violins, no blast beats, death growls or any of the trappings of sub-genres that came after the early 80’s. You would be forgiven for thinking, after one listen, that this was an album recorded in 1983, but no – this is Nigromante’s brand new debut album, released this year. This is pure heavy metal in its rawest and most unadulterated form.
There are no guitar gymnastics like Angel Witch, or soaring guitar harmonies in the vein of Iron Maiden or Judas Priest; instead Nigromante’s metal is forged from slightly cruder material. In particular, the rough and ready material on display here really reminds me of one band in particular – Anvil. There is the same kind of `hammer-it-out-whatever-happens’ vibe, the slightly atonal, stodgy heavy metal riffing, which for all of its lack of catchiness is really great fun. There is the slight experimentation with odd time signatures, on songs such as `False Idol’, which also is vaguely reminiscent of Danish legends Mercyful Fate.
In this album, which to my mind really is frozen in a particular period in metal’s history, you can hear the very beginnings of proto-thrash as well, there are some nasty, spiky riffs which could have easily been outtakes from Metallica’s `Kill Em All’. Like the aforementioned Canadian stalwarts Anvil, Nigromante seem to be trapped in that period in the evolution of heavy metal that was just after NWOBHM, but just before thrash. The music is rough, loud, heavy, rather unsophisticated and slightly tuneless, but not as vicious and frenetic as the thrash metal that came directly after. Those of a nostalgic bent should find a lot musically here to enjoy.
There is one thing I have to mention though; for me personally, the vocals really grate. I like a lot of rough vocalists, and I don’t require all metal vocalists to be trained singers, but the vocals on this album are really forced and amateurish. I am reminded of Chris Boltendahl from Grave Digger, but less able to hold a tune. They are good in places, but very inconsistent, and the constantly straying out of tune makes it hard for me to take for more than a couple of songs in one sitting.
On the whole, this album, is a very faithful and dedicated stab at early 80’s heavy metal. The band have a lot of promise, but really need to sharpen up some of their skills. If they could produce more songs with great, catchy choruses like `Satan Death Squad’, then they would be onto a winner I think.
(6.5/10 Jon Butlin)