EP REVIEW: De Arma – Nightcall


De Arma’s new three-track EP Nightcall marks something of a turning point for the Swedish gothic rock band. Following their 2021 album Strayed in Shadows, the band have now signed a multi-album deal with Silent Future Recordings, for whom Nightcall is the first offering.

Musically, there has been something of a shift too. Nightcall’s three tracks provide almost no hint of the black metal influence that De Arma displayed on earlier releases (especially their 2011 split with British black metallers Fen). Instead, this EP leans heavily on inspiration from gothic rock and synthwave. Vocalist Andreas Pettersson spills out forlorn and ominous deep-voiced verses while eighties guitars jangle out their dreary pop melodies that recall The Mission or The Smiths. Marie Oja also provides harmony vocals (and takes some lead lines, notably on EP closer ‘Sunset Dreams’) that act as a pleasing counterpoint — a gleaming light against Pettersson’s looming shade. When the two singers are both soaring together on the anthemic dark eighties pop choruses the effect is comparable to that of the lush vocal arrangements on The Sisters of Mercy’s classic Floodland.

 

Johan Marklund’s electronic drums are so eighties that it hurts, to the point where some of those “beoow, beoow, beoow” synth rototom fills are almost comical and perhaps a little too much. Huge organic pulsating synth pads a-la Depeche Mode or Perturbator are also a prominent feature. The arrangements are rich, dense, atmospheric and rooted firmly in the 80s but with the influence of contemporary synthwave blended in; they provide a darkly fantastical and evocative setting for these three strong songs to flourish in.

 

This is not really a heavy album in the metal sense, but occasionally there are hints at the influence of gothic doomy metal bands as Paradise Lost or Katatonia; this can be detected in the chanting at the end of ‘Shame Drifter’ or the chorus of ‘After Dark, You’re There’ (where there is even a brief chugging distorted guitar part), for example.

Nightcall wears its influences on its sleeve and doesn’t necessarily explore any new territory. What it does have, though, is three deep, atmospheric, catchy, sorrowful, dark, emotionally charged songs excellently produced with enough of a balance between contemporary and eighties sounds to make them feel relevant to 2022 as well as nostalgically reminiscent of the classic gothic rock that inspired them.

Buy the EP here: https://orcd.co/de-arma-nightcall

7 / 10

DUNCAN EVANS