One man black metal band Zemial was established in Greece back in 1989 but is currently based in Germany. Nykta is Zemial’s third album and is released via Hells Headbangers Records. The album cover didn’t grab me the first time I looked at it, but I have to say it’s growing on me now.
The first track Ancient Arcane Scrolls starts off with a mid-paced, chugging guitar riff, which quickly progresses into something thick with heavy metal attitude. It doesn’t feel like black metal, and the vocals too are decidedly un-black. The riffs are undeniably catchy, with some interesting rhythms and there’s a fuck load of energy behind everything. At times, it has quite a middle eastern feel. It’s a vast song, quite theatrical at times, with the odd black metal lick.
The second track Eclipse has a ridiculously fast paced intro. The vocals are significantly harsher in this track, and it does have much more of a black metal feel to it. It’s catchy and plays with a crusty, punkish tone, reminding me of Darkthrone’s Circle the Wagons and The Underground Resistance. There’s some intricate guitar work going on too, which injects some more of a heavy metal vibe. Mid-way through, it feels quite pared down, and there’s a hint of black metal flavour. The amount of styles going on in this track is mind boggling, and how Archon Vorskaath makes it work is really impressive. It’s an intense track, drawing you in like the sea would.
Under Scythian Command comes in sounding very thrash inspired, with fast, complex guitar passages. Again, there’s a lot of styles at play and Vorskaath isn’t afraid of experimenting with the vocals. No song on this release has sounded even similar, and this range of diversity is a welcome shock to the system.
In the Arms of Hades is extreme metal on speed. It’s not particularly heavy, but rather progressive, and it switches from one thing to another effortlessly. There’s some quite epic vocals and it does adopt a theatrical tone again at times. The tempo shifts constantly, keeping you on your toes. By the middle of the track so much has happened. At times there are some effortlessly beautiful melodies, that hypnotise you and hold this real sense of mystery.
Breath of Pestilence is catchy and interesting, though slightly less rammed than the other tracks, which makes time for a brief breather.
Deathspell has a distinct black metal tone. It’s fast and damn fucking furious. It’s taken me somewhere else entirely, and that ability to pluck and drop the listener is what I really like about this album. Towards the midway point, the track slows down significantly, and takes on more of a doomy pace and tone.
The Small is quite a layered track, with masses of texture. I’d even go so far as to say it sounds quite groovy at times.
Pharos kicks off with a distorted, mid-tempo guitar riff. The vocals are demonic and harsh. There’s so many styles at work here, I can’t quite get my head around it, but I know that it all works really well. The vocals keep chopping and changing, but these alterations really strengthen the track. It feel energised, powerful and dark as fuck, with some truly epic guitar pieces. It’s a long track, but it’s packed with depth and substance. About midway, the atmosphere becomes very sinister and insular, and you begin to feel quite claustrophobic. The music is sparse but effective in its minimalism. The atmosphere becomes really quiet, though hugely atmospheric and different, allowing you a bit of time to reflect on what you’ve just heard.
Out of the Cage – 333 is based on John’s Cage’s composition 4:33 which is, essentially, four minuites, thirty-three seconds of silence.
Nykta is unlike anything I’ve ever heard before. I highly recommend it to fans of black, thrash, death, fuck, it doesn’t matter which extreme metal limb you prefer to gnaw at, just listen to it.  https://www.facebook.com/pages/Zemial-Official/199551066758156