neverlightA Belgian death metal band that’s been going since 1999, and I’d never heard of them? How rude! Sent to me by the fine people at French record company “Great Dane Records”, this promo came in a rather nice digipack CD edition, with the great artwork prominently on display. As it turns out, Neverlight Horizon have had three full length releases, with this being their third. As you might expect for a band that has been about for so long, they are a proficient bunch.

In terms of death metal, this is pretty dense stuff, and not in the Daily Star reading kind of way. Thick, churning slabs of death metal that are delivered in a fairly brutal way, with some tasty dual-vocals alternating between the deep, rumbling coarse growling and ferocious shrieking that bring to mind that Akercocke-type delivery. The music, however, is somewhat less ornate than that particular band, playing a viciously delivered take on the classic American death metal sound with some heavy Slayer influences here and there, particularly on the scything axe-work, which adds a very Kerry-King esque take to the proceedings. Penultimate track, “God of Suffering”, for instance, sounds like the more straight-forward takes of Morbid Angel circa, say, “Covenant”, while having plenty of Cannibal Corpse-esque groove, which is elevated above the normal run-of-the-mill death metal by means of the effective guitar over laced over the pummelling attack.

The delivery of the music is breathless, with nary a break for air, with the band running berserk. Special mention has to go to the drum work of Julien Nicolet, who manages to both keep the thrash-spirit alive among all the blasting, but manages to keep the tub-thumping interesting enough to elevate this above the standard death metal fare. There is a dark atmosphere to the record, which is helped by the excellent guitar work, which manages to produce brow-furrowing riffs without sacrificing the menace, and when the guitar solos appear, they are short, to the point and always tasteful in the context of the song. Bass lines are impressive, with the burbling under “The Awakening” being hugely effective in adding to the overall menace.

Yes, there are parts where the crew are clearly tailoring sections of music for the live experience, with some mid-tempo chug being designed, one suspects, for head-nodding satisfaction, but that doesn’t mean that this is weak in any way, shape or form. Despite a really clear production, this is a collection of tracks that manage to keep the perfect balance between aggression and catchiness, and – as ever – I subjected it to the death metal test. That test? Can I remember the tune for the track for longer than the track lasted? Absolutely with “Dead God Effigies”, which not only passed the test with flying colours, but also went on to be the only album I listened to for about a week on my lengthy daily commute. That mid-song period in title track “Dead God Effigies” is worth the admission price alone; a new classic!

(7.5/10 Chris Davison)