“All Knots Untied”

By Dr. Abner Mality

With no warning, NIXIL hits the American black metal scene like a thunderbolt. This impressive offering is the first time I’ve heard an American band operating in the same rarefied air as avant-garde European stalwarts like DEATHSPELL OMEGA and BLUT AUS NORD. I wouldn't say they are quite on that level yet, but they show every sign of getting there.

A lot of thought has been put into the six tracks comprising “All Knots Untied”. These songs are all constructed in almost classical music fashion, with every note meaning something and no wasted energy. The color here is pitch black and there’s plenty of harshness to go around, but the harshness is married to a dark melodicism. It’s raging fast when it needs to be, but favors slower and more deliberate tempos as often as not. “Deaths of Our Own Design” is what pure heavy metal sounds like when it takes a nice blackened bath. “Make Me the Voice” is crushing cold doom that chills the blood, complete with trollish vocal rasps.  The title track has a grim and sorrowful feel like the best Norwegian vintage.

Those descriptions don’t do full justice, because the songs all mutate like a Covid variant and never stay exactly the same. It’s classical yet avant-garde at the same time. A really hard thing to pull off. 

I am really impressed with NIXIL. This is as far from cookie-cutter black metal as you can get and still sound “true”.