“Bad weather, fog, sleet, and gusts of wind,” was the final message from climbers Tom Ballard and Daniele Nardi before they went missing on Sunday from Nanga Parbat at an altitude of about 6,300 m. This was the latest accident in which the Nanga Parbat took lives, and those were not the only ones. A high number of deaths on the peak, which is notoriously difficult to climb, have earned it the nickname “Killer Mountain.” There have certainly been a lot of deaths. From Rome, rose the death metal band named NANGA PARBAT with their debut album, “Downfall and Torment,” which was released on March 23rd, 2021.
Mountains, nature, and the struggle between humans and the natural world were the main inspiration for the band members to create progressive death metal with classical elements. Alongside great orchestration, special guests added another layer of flavor and everything is further enriched by an orchestral quartet. The soundscape of the entire album is very rich. Strong and powerful but melodic guitar riffs and leads from Flavio Cicconi and Edoardo Sterpetti complement and enrich the sound, while the orchestrations give songs the atmosphere. The bass lines are not just holding the guitars and drums together, but Giulio Galati creates melodies that can stand alone. Galati, beside amazing drumming, added a personal twist on every drum track. Andrea Pedruzzi‘s grandiose and vivid vocals range from growling and clear singing, like another instrument that fits in perfectly with overall sound.
All that craftsmanship, balanced with technical and emotional virtuosos, leads us right into the opener, “The Edge Of An Endless Waterfall.” The song is gentle and peaceful sounding, as classical guitar in baroque style gives you the serenity of a waterfall with a finger-picking melody, accompanied by violin. The intro is liable to claim you down before “Through A Lake Of Damnation” starts, with cutting-edge guitar riffs and progressive sounds. The drums that kick in and the cymbals highlight the guitar riffs as Pedruzzi growls. The interesting part is when they pair two vocal lines, attracting attention with multiple dimensions. The song is a really powerful driving force.
“Blood, Death And Silence” begins with acoustic guitar, but right away, heavy riffs cut through and give it a harsh and faster tempo. Throughout the song, there are a couple of changing tempos that make it progressive, but with a feel, as the vocals raging with growls yet maintain a melodic chorus. With orchestrated arrangements, the song “Tidal Blight” – complimented with percussions – gives an Oriental feel mixed with strings and classical guitar, along with great bass lines that wrap up the whole package. There’s no surprise that the powerful guitar riffs cut through, giving the listener a lot of variety to digest. “Demon In The Snow” starts with classical style again with the piano leading the way for drums, guitars, and bass to kickstart the crescendo of what we heard before. The backing of choral voices accompanying the rhythm section with demonic vocals is particularly nice.
And just when you think that you’ve figured out the pattern, NANGA PARBAT surprises you with further tracks, such as “Obscure Rain” with melodic and clean vocals, creating a world around your imagination before cutting in to the most interesting electric and classical guitar riffing, couple with with pumping drums and bass. The remarkable contrast between the two vocal lines and the overdrive of guitar also adds color and tonal quality. “Curse Of The Thaw” continues to express dark and haunting motives, with a psychedelic approach to the guitar.
The title track, “Downfall And Torment,” starts with classical piano and glides the rhythm smoothly into an explosion of what is evidently typical for NANGA PARBAT: aggressive drumming and superb guitar riffs. The album then closes with “Breath Of The Northern Winds,” purely represented by the electrifying guitar solos and choral vocals in the background, as the serenity begins to wrap things up with a descending guitar, letting listeners feel like we have survived that Killer Mountain.
“Downfall And Torment” is very well produced and certainly is empowering, extraordinary, and exquisite. It gives listeners a lot of reasons to come back and listen over and over. There is definitely a lot of variety in the playing and the musicianship is top notch. NANGA PARBAT made a great work of art and they are definitely on my list to see live whenever it becomes possible.
Written by Peter Jerman
- The Edge of an Endless Waterfall (Intro)
- Through a Lake of Damnation
- Blood, Death and Silence
- Tidal Blight
- Demon in the Snow
- Obscure Rains
- Curse of the Thaw
- Downfall and Torment
- Breath of Northern Winds (Outro)
Flavio Cicconi – Lead Guitar
Giulio Galati – Drums
Andrea Pedruzzi – Vocals
Enrico Sandri – Bass
Edoardo Sterpetti – Guitar & Orchestration
Davide Straccione – Guest Vocals on “Downfall and Torment”
Edoardo Taddei – Guitar Solo on “Through a Lake of Damnation”
Fabiana Testa – Acoustic Guitar on “Obscure Rains”
Francesco Ferrini – Orchestra Production
Martin Vincent – Narrator on “Tidal Blight”
Vittoria Nagni – Violin on “The Edge of an Endless Waterfall”