You might recognize the name Nik Nocturnal from a review we did of his previous release, The Well, a little over a year ago (you can check that out HERE.) Nik is a progressive metal inspired music maker from Toronto, and his newest release, Undying Shadow, is some of his best work yet. I’ve highlighted a few of my favorites from the 11-track album below.
Dear Phantom is an intense song filled with djent-y riffs and some intense soloing, not to mention a fantastic guest vocalist (Andy Cizek). The part of this song that really stuck out to me was the chorus which contains some interesting harmonies between the guitar and vocal lines. The screaming and guitar riffs match the vocal hook, and that layer of three creates an extremely unique sound that really made me take note.
I found myself getting really into the groove in Mirage. It’s interesting – this song doesn’t have the craziest guitar riffs, insane solos, or even a guest feature, but it just does such a great job at creating a groove. The combination of djent-y riffs atop ambient guitar parts just feels so right, and I found myself banging my head instantly. The rhythm stays interesting, and as the song progresses some guitar riffs become very recognizable (sometimes repetition gets overlooked in prog music in place of virtuosity, but it’s extremely important no matter what genre is being written). I just really liked everything about this piece.
I absolutely loved the chorus in Remnant (Feat. Ben English), which is the final track on the album. Beautiful vocal harmonies quietly placed in the background of this piece are accentuated by screams, which do a wonderful job creating an immense amount of atmosphere in this piece. And as per a Nik Nocturnal song, the song also contains some sick djent-y riffs and some nice soloing. Definitely a favorite of mine on the album.
Nik is able to showcase his absolute virtuosity on the guitar, while still being able to maintain the emotion and expressiveness of a professional. That is certainly a difficult balance to strike as I often times hear extremely skilled players fall down the rabbit hole of just trying to show off, and in doing so sacrifice the emotional aspect of the piece. Even though Nik is still a relatively young guy, he has the maturity of a seasoned professional, which is why his music is so much fun to listen to. Definitely check out Undying Shadow!