Theophonos - Nightmare Visions review
|Release date:||February 2023|
01. Maps Of The Future
02. Go On To Your Gallows
03. Thousand Imaginary Swords
04. Lost One
05. At Rest In Turbulence
06. Lower Types
07. Nightmare Visionary
08. Of Days Past
I'm not entirely sure why the person behind a one-man black metal band would need to also start a solo project, but anyway: here's Serpent Column's Theophonos's first solo album.
Jimmy Hamzey, also known as Theophonos, got quite a lot of rep in the black metal world through the Serpent Column project, one with a very distinct technical flair, a sound that we praised again and and again and and again. The mix of black metal and chaotic hardcore was something that still feels very novel to this day, even if some releases focused more on the technical aspect while others focused more on the atmospheric aspect. With still just the same person behind the music and an already established tendency found sound variety, as far as I'm concerned, Nightmare Visions, could've just been a Serpent Column album, without the need to create another Mystískaos alumni. But Theophonos still chose to release it as Theophonos, so there must be a reason.
The conceptual reason is that the material here was conceived around the same time as Mirror In Darkness, but instead of the usual kvltish stuff, the lyrical content on Nightmare Visions is a lot more personal and worldly. There's an abundance of first person perspectives and a tackling of grievances and outrage. Some of that is reflected in the vocal performance, which, while mostly still in the blackened shrieks mode, does occasionally deviate. But even outside the lyrics, this feels like an even bigger move towards a hardcore sound, with the black metal side still remaining in the vocals, but otherwise feeling more like a blackening of a post-hardcore / mathcore sound rather than the other way around, something even more than the previously hardcore-est Endless Detainment.
And what sets it apart even more is that it's not just the pummeling sense of chaos that Theophonos takes from hardcore this time around, but a very post-hardcore specific sense of melody, of which this has in spades. Sure, there's still some rather black metal leaning melodic moments, but when three of the tracks are shorter than three minutes, it creates a pretty good sense of what's in focus. Nightmare Visions is groovier, the atmospheric moments border on post-rock, the chaos, while there, is more controlled and harnessed towards a very harsh sense of dreamlike melody. Maybe calling this blackened Converge wouldn't be too far from the truth, as also there's some tangible emotion to this that was never as apparent in Theophonos' work hitherto.
Nightmare Visions is quite a lot to unpack despite the more direct delivery, and while I'm still not entirely convinced this had to be separated from the Serpent Columb main branch, the album only further cements Theophonos as one of the most forward-thinking and creative metal musicians of this generation.
||Written on 24.02.2023 by|
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