03 Sep 2022 - Stephan
Synthwave | Release date: 04 Aug 2022
Based on the sub cultural demographic of its musicians, labels and fans it doesn’t feel far-fetched to say that that there’s at least a certain brand of synthwave music which you could rightfully call the only worthwhile subgenre of metal that isn’t actually metal at all. Or at least for a while it has been that way. Not only with Carpenter Brut’s guitar shredding or Gost going full extreme metal the lines have already been blurred. Enter Nitelight, who have developed their related, but still distinct idea of merging the worlds while staying true to their fully electronic instrumentation.
The release which put the Italian project on the map of select metalheads in the know was their last album from 2020 with the quite self-explanatory title Nitelight plays: Death’s Symbolic, on which they… Well I just said it’s self-explanatory, so yes: It was a glorious synthwave recreation of the full death metal classic Symbolic, all nine of Chuck Schuldiner’s masterpieces presented in a completely new light. A fun, yet equally impressive proof that great songwriting ultimately transcends all genre boundaries.
After following this much lauded hit with yet another Death cover, the single track “Zombie Ritual”, their new digital EP Oblivion now sees Nitelight return to original material - but applying lessons they learned on their metal excursion.
All six track go for the vibe of a dance club in a dystopian sci-fi mega city, shaking the listener’s body with variations of oomphoomphoomph, industrial clang and slow-mo headbang breakdowns, mostly rooted in the 1980s, but also reaching for a Nineties techno / Laibach NATO vibe in “Discipline of Regression”. In itself the juxtaposition of moving rhythm and sinister synths of course isn’t anything new for a genre which is practically built on the worship of John Carpenter. Yet still Nitelight do it a little bit different.
Their bass lines, riffs, melodies all don’t feel quite the same as on the material prior to their metal adaptations. If you’d convert some of this stuff to guitars it could easily pass as the instrumental for a metal band like say Zeal & Ardor. Or is this just the song title “Twilight of the Gods” reminding me of Z&A’s “Götterdämmerung”? At least for some tracks on this EP Nitelight’s trick to achieve this metal spirit went beyond just being influenced by the music they had been working on before. And while a member of dissonant death metal masters Ad Nauseam was giving a helping hand in the studio, he isn’t that secret either. No, instead the duo deliberately wrote said tunes as death metal songs - and then translated them back to purely electronic music. The result in my ears was worth the effort. In case you disagree try not to nod yes to the beat now! See, you failed.
I actually don’t know if or how the duo performs live. Yet judging from the music alone - and hoping they don’t let the promise of this release fall into Oblivion, but follow it up with a full album on the same level - they show the potential to rightfully join the spearhead of the synthwave metal fans can party to scene.
Of course another transformed metal classic wouldn’t hurt for that goal either. In fact they’ve already set up a poll. I voted for Death’s The Sound of Perseverance. And please don’t forget to include the Judas Priest Painkiller cover on it, guys!