Rushing forth from the Detroit metal underground comes Theophonos debut album Nightmare Visions. Being born from the ashes of the far reaching black metal act Serpent Column, Theophonos distinct themselves by taking on a more personal approach with the lyrics, and while having some similarities to the previous band, there’s a distinct sound to this band that sets it apart from its serpentine cousin.
With such a ferocious opening, its no doubt that right from the start you’re gonna be in for a wild ride. Twisting and angular riffs with head spinning drums that pound away at the listener’s psyche and intense yet emotional vocals screech out amongst the cacophony of sound. Its a maelstrom of auditory emotions that sweeps the listener into its nightmarish embrace. The concept behind this album is rather interesting. With its heavy emphasis on the lyrical contents, its no doubt that this is truly a personal album that describes rather tragic dreams that the writer had. The imagery used is vivid yet so distant, it only strikes up some deep feelings one couldn’t imagine normally having. I’d highly recommend reading the lyrics alongside the album as it really gives a whole new perspective on what you’re listening to and gives it some deeper meaning when paired with the instrumentals. After reading said lyrics, there’s no doubt that the album’s instrumentation have a story to tell on its own, with the fifth track At Rest in Turbulence being the intermission and rest period for the album as the first four tracks assault you with its brutality.
Speaking of the instrumentation, there’s a mix of different elements at hand. Of course black metal being something very familiar to the untrained ear here, but there’s some elements of hardcore, gothic rock, and just straight up grind. While, there are some sound comparisons with Serpent Column as I mentioned before, its very clear that they weren’t just trying to copy paste. There’s more of a calmer and more atmospheric approach here, and at times leaning more into the melody and rhythm rather than just full on blasting like the previous band.
There’s no doubting that the brain behind this project, Jim Hamzey, is an extremely talented artist who’s top notch songwriting is on full display with this album. Its clear from start to finish that this is an album that comes from the heart and has such a earnest and honest sound that simply adds more to the album as a whole. Any fan of extreme music should give this a listen, as there’s a little something for everyone to enjoy. Highly recommended, possibly one of the top albums I’ve heard so early in this year. Hopefully there’s more to come from this creative individual in the future.