[21st January 2013]
01. Integumental Grasp
02. Through The Sigil Of Hate
03. Immortalizing The Nine
04. Disguises Of Evil
05. In Senility
Atmospheric black metal is a tough genre to stand out in, as it is flooded with one and two-man bands, all of which sound more or less the same, with only a few making really worthwhile music, a few of those names being Lustre, Midnight Odyssey, and the mighty Summoning. Yayla, a one-man project from Turkey, is unfortunately not among those. On Nihaihayat, Yayla’s fourth full length release, the proud majestic genre of atmospheric black metal is reduced to ruinous murk and mire.
At first, it seems like this might be a gem of an album, as it opens with a 5 minute long ambient track called “Integumental Grasp”, which conveys a wonderfully woeful mood, and exhibits a great, balanced sound, raw but clear. All of that disappears as soon as the next song, “Through the Sigil of Hate” begins. The guitars are barely audible, the vocals are muddy, and the crystal clear keyboard sounds that graced the first song are completely gone. The rest of the album is similar, attempting to be raw, but failing; unfortunately only sounding badly produced instead. Lo-fi recording is a common aesthetic in this genre, usually endeavouring to sound cold, but care must still be taken to avoid sounding simply weak. Only the drums on this album come through clearly, and they really shine through. They are booming and immense, which causes them to overpower everything else. If the guitar work had been given the same consideration of sound, it might have saved this album. As they are, the guitar tone is weak, buzzing, unfocused, and sloppy to the point where one can barely distinguish between notes. The vocals are better, but still not ideal. They strive for a ghostly weightlessness and a haunting echo which can really help enhance the atmosphere of a record, something this album drastically needs. Tragically though, the same problem ripples across the entire piece and that is the dominating drum production, burying the vocals in the same indistinct noise that the rest of the album is encased in.
On the fourth song, “Disguises of Evil”, there is a sudden change. The production randomly improves, if only marginally, making the album feel even more incoherent than it already does. The guitar becomes more audible and one can actually discern between different notes. Though they retain their booming quality, the drums no longer rule the mix. It is also an instrumental, so the laclustre vocals do not come in to spoil the track.
Musically, this album ranges from generic at best, to woefully boring at worst. There isn’t anything dreadful here at all, but almost nothing good. The one song that has something interesting on it, “Immortalizing the Nine”, decides to take the one good riff idea and play it over and over and over again, until it loses any impact it may have had. Other than that, the three black metal songs here are tedious slogs through mindless repetitive tremolo picking and monotonous beating programmed drums. The two bright spots are the first and last tracks, both of which are pure dark ambient atmosphere. Both might drag on a little to long considering the lack of variation contained within them, but the sound is clear and the mood is dark and brooding.
Nihaihayat could be much better, even without improved production. The one or two good ideas on this album definitely showcase potential, but are ground into dust by mindless repetition and badly recorded instruments. Even so, there’s nothing new to find here, as many projects and bands are able to create far better music in this genre. If it’s atmospheric black metal you want, give this one a miss and find something more worthwhile.