When it comes to Black Metal, Portugal has never been much of a fertile breeding ground. Apart from bands like (very) early Moonspell and maybe Decayed or Filii Nigrantium Infernalium it will be hard for your regular metal fan to come up with any other Portuguese Black Metal bands. How did that change over the past few years? Seemingly out of the blue the country developed itself to one of the worlds hotspots when it comes to Black Metal.
Quality labels like Altare Productions (and its predecessors Bubonic Productions/Discipline), Signal Rex/Harvest Of Death and Black Gangrene have helped propel their scene into whole new levels. Every Black Metal connoisseur now at least has a few releases of bands like Black Cilice, Mons Veneris, Vetala, Ordem Satânica or Candelabrum (one of my personal favourites). But though a review might not be the place for a full analysis of the local Portuguese Black Metal scene, it is fair to say that from this soil sprouts many an interesting band. One of those definitely is this Nidernes.
Having released one demo tape (also released on a single-sided 12” through Skjold), one split 7” EP (with Void Prayer), one full-length album and a tape with a collaboration with Obskuritatem (all released by Black Gangrene) in about five years Nidernes can’t be labelled a real new kid on the block nor can’t they be accused of unproductivity. So, with ‘Beyond The Gleam Of Nightsky’ the band deliver their second offering and pushes their own boundaries in terms of creativity and musicianship. While the core of the music might not be the most original, Black Metal that has most in common with what you could call the Finnish sound (Satanic Warmaster, for instance), Nidernes enhances their sound with more dynamics, keyboards and even some clean(er) vocals and gives it a very own and pretty unique twist. A song like ‘Garbed In Lint And Lustrous Dead Light’ has all of the above, based on a rather classic Black Metal riff but with lots of dynamics, in the sense of tempo changes and enough space for bass lines, keyboards and creative use of vocals (including guest vocals by M. of Lamp Of Murmuur). Wrapping it all up, ‘Beyond The Gleam Of Nightsky’ sounds a bit like an 90’s Black Metal album, recorded in Portugal anno 2021.
In short, ‘Beyond The Gleam Of Nightsky’ is another great Portuguese black metal album. Delivered by a band that is a little more melodic than most of their peers, but because of that proves to have something to offer other than only utter grimness or bleak melancholy.