Now, I like black metal as much as the next guy, assuming the next guy really likes black metal, but my stance on black metal has always been and will always be that black metal is at its best when it is chopped and screwed, blended up with other influences and genres into a heavy metal cocktail. Some pairings make more sense than others, but in the end it’s about injecting new life into a genre that has the potential to stale very rapidly. On their debut full-length Extinction Rituals, Nadir attempts a shot in the arm to black metal by bringing in their hardcore influences.
Nadir, who only have one EP to their name other than Extinction Rituals and who are unsigned as of this writing, are relatively new in terms of bands, but the individual members are no strangers to the Norwegian metal scene. The quartet’s pedigree includes tenures in bands like Ocean Dweller and Jagged Vision, and they clearly know their stuff. One listen to Extinction Rituals shows they are well versed in the kind of icy, frigid black metal that put their country on the proverbial map, but Nadir also seek to show that there is plenty of room to innovate in the genre and inject some of the passion, aggression and desperation that makes hardcore what it is. Is it really innovative to mix black metal and hardcore though? Certainly they aren’t the first ones to blend the two, but being innovative isn’t just about being first. Blackened hardcore is a combination that seems designed to work by default, so there isn’t a lot of inherent risk in the wager, but one thing that is true is that Nadir certainly do what they do very well. The black metal is executed to a high degree, with just the right amount of frozen ambience and discordant chaos for my taste. The hardcore is slamming, with tight, energetic riffs that cruise over galloping d-beats and blasts that switch to half-time breakdowns effortlessly. Is it truly unlike anything I’ve ever heard before? Not exactly, but there are moments on Extinction Rituals that get me very interested in where this project could go.
I don’t want it to come across like Nadir are some generic band doing what everyone else is doing. The envelope doesn’t get pushed very far on this release, but besides the fact that this is a solid album front to back, there are moments of real brilliance on here that I think show what a future Nadir has. For starters, “The Old Wind” opens with a motif that taps into the same vein that a project like Winterfylleth does before launching itself into a punk-driven midsection and a rousing finish. Besides the nasty riffing, the expert use of melody, both beautiful and angular, is one of the things I enjoy most about the guitar work on Extinction Rituals, and the way they manage to blend the two pretty seamlessly is something to be commended. Some standout examples would be tracks like “Tenebrae,” that features a black-hole-heavy two-stepping breakdown with great use of dissonance in the guitar lines, “Absolute” that opens with lush, counterpointed melodies and slides into a big body riff, or the closing ninety seconds of the title track, which is a musical space I would be willing to commit to a timeshare in because I love it so much. It’s moments like these that I really hope Nadir lean into on subsequent releases, because this is the kind of thing that could *really* set them apart from their peers and allow them to make the transition from good to truly great.
Extinction Rituals is a great showcase for both what the members of Nadir can do and what they can offer for the future. It’s a solid record on its own merits, but there are moments here that are so good I found myself wishing for a whole album of them. I’m very excited to see what happens next for this band, because there could be something big here.
Extinction Rituals is available now on Nadir’s Bandcamp page. For more information on Nadir, visit their Facebook page.