Album Review: Mavradoxa – Nightmarrow

Mavradoxa are a band we’ve truly championed since day one. Their third album Nightmarrow is set to be released May 2, 2019 on Hypnotic Dirge Records. It was recorded by Nicholas Alan of Subterranean Studios in Rochester, a real up and comer in that scene. Nicholas has been recording most of the metal that’s been pouring out of Rochester these last few years and it’s great to see that the well is hardly running dry for him.

As per usual, Mavradoxa is churning out more of their signature melodic, atmospheric black metal, but that’s not to say that Nightmarrow is without heavy, bombastic moments. The opening track, “Maple” is a lengthy journey in and of itself, transporting the listener into Mavradoxa’s unique musical realm. Interestingly enough, the band chose to kick their new album off with a little bit of a blackened folk metal vibe. This is an area of their sound sporadically explored, so it’s always a treat when the band ventures there. The note arrangements of the opening riff combined with the opening drum choice, give things a nice Isengard or Windir feeling. But from there, the song weaves its way in and out of dissonant passages, a variety of tempos, some dark, ominous riffing and finally, some nice dual lead guitar play in melodious higher registers. By the end of the seven minute epic, anyone listening will have a perfect idea of what Mavradoxa have built with this latest album of theirs.

Moving forward, you’ll still have five more lengthy tracks to sink your teeth into before Nightmarrow‘s sonic bombardment ends.  At over nine minutes in length, “The Carrion Shade” picks up where “Maple” left off. Only this time, things are much closer to the aggressive black metal side of the band’s spectrum. There’s more reverb in the vocals, the screams themselves have more of a rasp and grit, and the riffs and drums are just meaner in terms of the genre they’re chasing. This is a very brooding song that is extremely easy to get lost in. But in Mavradoxa’s world, simultaneously crafting a sense of dread right along with an equal sense of urgency is to be expected. I think the same can be said for the rest of the album.

Songs like the title track, “Nightmarrow” and “Black Crystal Snowfall” show off the band’s depressive black metal side, while shorter, cleaner passages like “Rustling Leaves” and “Umbra”, showcase Mavradoxa’s love for all things autumnal, or just nature in general. Lyrically, Nightmarrow questions humanity’s current path. It questions technological advancement and meditates on the fate of the earth, should mankind succeed in self-annihilation. There’s a lot to be said about the scars humans leave on this planet every day, and Mavradoxa aren’t afraid to call out the very species they themselves must admit to being akin to.

All in all, this is both a disturbing and alleviating album. It is disturbing in the sense that it forces listeners to take a long look at not only the rest of humanity, but their own lives as well. It is alleviating in the sense that the music conveys these feelings in a multitude of ways. Despite how you may or may not feel about atmospheric black metal, things aren’t always morbidly depressing and dreary in the realm of Nightmarrow. Some of the blackened folk metal sections and in fact, most the lead guitar play, can be quite uplifting at times; not to mention that the clean guitar passages are just beautiful. Mavradoxa have always excelled at capturing the beauty of nature through the power of well composed music.

Mavradoxa are:

Nival – Guitar, Vocals
Staz – Guitar
Josh – Bass
Lux – Drums, Vocals

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