2017’s release of King Delusion (Apostasy Records) was a watershed moment for Nailed To Obscurity. It was an impressive and emotive effort which began to win them wider press and, as far as the UK is concerned, a coveted main stage slot at 2018’s Bloodstock Festival and signing to titans Nuclear Blast, evidence of a much deserved rise in fortunes and out of, ahem, obscurity. Where a brand new album would have hoped to really build upon this success however, sadly Black Frost (Nuclear Blast) isn’t quite the revelation as perhaps hoped.
Black Frost is a moody and utterly bleak effort which showcases plentiful worshipping at the altar of the Peaceville Three, in particular of early Paradise Lost, with Raimund Ennenga’s powerful range sounding reminiscent of Nick Holmes, both in his guttural growls and his low, clean vocals. Elsewhere, Black Frost draws upon the lengthy, Goth-tinged melancholy of the likes of Paradise Lost and My Dying Bride, married with a sense of melody but equally brooding tone of early Amorphis. Where King Delusion particularly embraced a more Progressive streak, Black Frost has toned that aspect of their sound down, but hasn’t lost it completely as evidenced on the lengthy, mellower passage on ‘Cipher’.
Nailed To Obscurity have shown a great deal of potential and talent before, and that does showcase once again here, with a sound that does provide a familiar and likeable sound, with Ennenga in particularly shining as a haunting and emotive presence; but Black Frost just feels like it lacks a much-needed spark. In fact in comparison to previous releases, this feels more like a comfortable step back as opposed to a leap forward. Whilst it has plenty to like about it, it feels like this should have been the time to unleash a lot more.
Nailed To Obscurity have been a rising force in the European scene for some time now and with their blend of despairing atmosphere and melodic Doom, it is easy to see why. Whilst not a bad album at all, Black Frost feels like a regression for the band who have previously showed a creative streak that looked to separate them from many of their Doom peers; instead on a larger stage for them, they seem to have blended further in to the crowd.
5 / 10