Bobby Yagodich – Guitar
Matt Jackson – Bass
Zach Nace – Guitar
Mark Bixler – Drums
I don’t remember the first time I saw Night, but I remember what I felt. In an experience that mirrors the one I described with Elagabalus but is no less true, Night was a band that for a brief period, pulled me out of a drunken stupor and made me realize something incredible was happening on a stage in front of me. They sounded like nothing else I had ever heard, and though I have since grown to know other bands of similar style, there is none that have been able to quite match Night for me. You never forget your first I guess. I have seen them more times than I can remember, but nowhere nearly enough, and they have been and always will be one of my favorite bands, a fact I am confident would be true even if I didn’t count the members among my friends.
Passages is Night’s third full length album, and what I feel is their best so far. That pains me a bit to say, because I feel such a personal connection to their earlier work, and the memories of cool nights in garages filled with insense smoke that it brings back, but “Passages” undoubtedly shows a band that has continued to evolve and push themselves into uncharted territory. The band self describes the album as venturing out into “spacier” territory. That’s an adjective I can agree with, but at the same time it hardly does it justice. It’s a very particular kind of spaciness, that I think could use some elaboration.
I hesitate to use the word “Lovecraftian” because so often that phrase conjures up images of massive tentacled beasts and ancient undead sorcerers. But at the core of so many Lovecraft stories is an unnamable and unknowable menace that awaits those who explore a little more than they should. And this is a motif I can’t help but feel throughout Passages. Yes, the music paints an often times beautiful picture of swirling galaxies and distant stars, but beneath this is this sense of dread and darkness that constantly lurks on the outskirts of these visions, as though the next chord could instantaneously transport you to some cyclopean Hellscape with nauseating geometry. If I had to make a direct story comparison, it would be “The Dream-Quest of Unknown Kadath.” A story that takes place on distant planets and abstract sci-fi landscapes, but all visited while the protagonist is dreaming. Breathtaking, almost high fantasy worlds, filled with nightmarish, but not always malevolent creatures. When I see the doorway on the cover art, I have to assume that this is the world that would await any who stepped through it. It’s fair to say that some of the negative emotional states may be conjured up by the black metal influence, but there’s far more to the darkness than a nod to Norway.
As I’ve discussed many times on the show, I’m not the guy to ask about the more technical aspects of music, but there is an element to Night’s music that even I can point to that I feel sets them above so many bands of similar style, and that is the rhythm section, Matt Jackson on Bass and Mark’s drumming in particular. So many metal bands that try to integrate a sense of atmosphere, end up with something closer to dark ambient than any sort of metal. Night does not have this problem, while Zach and Bobby’s guitar work are constantly pulling you toward the stars, the bass and drums demand your attention, making this a far more involved listen than your average soundscape, adding another layer of duality.
There’s nothing I can say to really do the album justice. It is simply an album you have to experience for yourself. So turn the lights down a bit, smoke a little something if you’re inclined, grab a copy of “The Shadow Out of Time” and take a journey. to again quote the band themselves, “press play, and drift away” but don’t drift to far, for “outside the ordered universe is that amorphous blight of nethermost confusion which blasphemes and bubbles at the center of all infinity—the boundless daemon sultan Azathoth, whose name no lips dare speak aloud, and who gnaws hungrily in inconceivable, unlighted chambers beyond time and space amidst the muffled, maddening beating of vile drums and the thin monotonous whine of accursed flutes.” but err more on that in October…