It’s been over six years since we’ve heard anything from Dominic Finbow, the guitarist for extreme sludge pioneers Moss. Finbow’s new project Nightfucker recalls the down tuned misery of Moss’ 2013 release Horrible Night, but abandons the clean vocals and varied compositions of that album. On their self-titled debut for Sentient Ruin, Finbow and company stake out a sound closer to torture doom. His blackened screams channel Moss’ most agonised moments, and the down tuned guitars sound sufficiently grim. The album struggles, however, with balance: between being hypnotic but not monotonous; of sounding otherworldly, but not disengaged.
Before continuing, it’s essential to highlight Finbow’s contributions to extreme music. From their first demos and splits onward, Moss innovated by creating early examples of groove-less doom. Thanks to Fuck Yoga’s vital Sinister History series, which has repackaged and re-released Moss’ earliest demos, fans can hear that from its inception, the project was less interested in Sabbathian heavy blues than it was with deconstructing the elements of sludge into abstraction. Here, opening track ‘Temptation’s Curse’ does that too, as Finbow shrieks over a psychotic, repeated guitar riff. The suffering is plentiful, but the track doesn’t quite capture the gravitas that comes with great dirges. On Cult of Occult’s 2018 Anti-Life, the song-craft was similarly minimal in approach, but they sustained tension through cohesive playing and mesmerising grandeur. Here, Nightfucker sound uncertain whether they’re even still playing as the song slows at its midway point and the effect feels more lackadaisical than ominous.
Despite the dis-invested performance and production, fans will find this a satisfying, misanthropic listen. On his first recorded output in years, Finbow’s vocal performance menaces in its despondency. Album closer ‘Death Beset’ is a highlight, unfurling patiently into a composition spiked with momentum-building passages. The track crawls its way toward a pained conclusion which points to Nightfucker’s potential to sharpen their bleak sound through more-realised production.
Nightfucker’s aim of making utterly challenging and defiant music is admirable – practically heroic considering the shittiness of our present age; it’s just that as the field of sludge metal expands, more and more bands are upping the ante and perfecting metal of similar tone and scope. Nightfucker’s debut functions as an introduction more than a statement, and fans of Finbow et al. will wait to see how they gel further if they continue as a unit.
Nightfucker is available now through Sentient Ruin and can be purchased here.
Words: Tim Paggi