The cold plains of Canada have been prolific with black metal since its boom began in Scandinavia. The harsh environments are synonymous with the raw, pulsating vibes which emanate through the genre, and Nachteule brings this to the forefront of its sound. Nachteule is a one-man project by one Quebecois known as Noctis, who has been involved in a number of projects over the years (see Alkamyst, Blosst, and Calvaire), predominantly orthodox black metal but trailing off into its subgenres frequently. Nachteule is steadily growing; its debut record, Vaste Inconnu, dropped just a year ago and he has already returned with Bergdorf. Noctis focuses on the atmospheric, while retaining the unforgiving frostbite that comes with the more traditional side of black metal.
Opening with a beautiful classical melody in “L’Aube”, Bergdorf is immediately captivating. A rather soothing opener for a black metal album, yet it makes complete sense as the record unfolds. Here, elements of folk in Noctis’ acoustic plucking come to the fore, which complements black metal smoothly when done this well. “Les Yeux De La Forêt” brings the same emotive pull via simple folk passages as the likes of Vàli (especially Skogslandskap), or as we heard in Bergdorf’s intro piece. Noctis’ musicianship shines in “Les Yeux…”, and his ability to create a seemingly effortless transition from something so tranquil to the epic black metal crescendo which proceeds. Returning to and fro from this place of acoustic solitude, Noctis’ attention to detail and placement of these softer passages is admirable, and showcases his diversity against many one-trick-pony artists.
Listen to Bergorf’s self-titled closer here.
With the intro complete, the album proper starts off with “Autour du Foyer Rouge”, replete with tremolo riff passages and an atmosphere reminiscent of the likes of Coldworld. Far from predictable, the drumming pattern of this track doesn’t quite ring true with most black metal, instead bringing a more black ‘n roll or blackgaze vibe momentarily, before Noctis’ growls come into play. The songs on Bergdorf transition from relatively soft tremolo riffs with a more atmospheric twang to them, to a sudden onslaught of blast beats which slip back into the realms of raw black metal, making for a varied listen that demands focus. Slipping in and out of lulling classical melodies towards the end of “Autour du Foyer Rouge” and throughout the record makes for a beautiful and effective dissonance that flows between multiple visions of black metal. Noctis’ acoustic guitar skills especially are noteworthy, and bring each track which contains them to life.
As for the heavier parts, Nachteule mainly focuses on the atmospheric variant of black metal, mixed with elements of shoegaze, even snippets of DSBM in places where the riffs drive a more melancholic emotion forward. That said, the formula doesn’t always stick around; during the closing title track, Bergdorfswitches a blend of melodic black metal and DSBM, with Noctis’ painfully piercing vocals bringing a feeling of loneliness to the album, which effortlessly accompanies the cold permeating throughout. This presents a neat juxtaposition between where the genre originated and where it’s travelled to and developed over the years. The respectful nod towards early black metal while bringing the newer variants and blending a heavily classical-oriented atmosphere make this album a pleasure to listen to.
Kicking off with the 9-minute jam “Autour Du Foyer Rouge”, stream the whole album!
Bergdorf is an excellent continuation of Nachteule’s sound. Comprising of atmospheric black metal than dips into other subgenres of its ilk, classical elements, and folk passages, it’s a mixed bag of black metal that captivates and keeps hold of you throughout. With Bergdorf, Noctis has demonstrated he is a force to be reckoned with in black metal, and is one of the most promising artists at this current time. With his, and Nachteule’s development over time, it’s possible for him to be a strong contender for the throne of modern black metal. Easily one of the strongest black metal records to have arisen from 2018.
Bergdorf Track Listing:
01. L’Aube (1.25)
02. Autour Du Foyer Rouge (09:11)
03. A Grand Pas (06:44)
04. Les Yeux De La Forêt (11:02)
05. Bergdorf (10:37)
Run Time: 38:59
Release Date: December 21, 2018
Record Label: Wolfspell Records