REVIEW: Svengahli – Nightmares of Our Own Design

Within the Metal community, there is much diversity among every genre. There are differences between Deathcore, Metalcore, Death Metal, Caveman Slam, Progressive Metalcore, but within each genre there are aspects that make people go, “Uhh… I can’t tell what this really is.” Some bands define themselves as a genre, other bands don’t care to discuss what they are because genre doesn’t define them. When it comes to Progressive Death Metal band Svengahli, the mastermind behind it all – Alex Weber – truly sets a new standard for what to expect of the genre. From jazzy choral ambiance to sickening, time-dilated sections, their newest record “Nightmares of our Own Design” shine bright in a genre that has much room for playability.

Often I found myself listening to this album in the background during a Call of Duty match or while cleaning the house, but this is more than just standard background music. Besides the opening track, “Writing on the Wall,” the subsequent three-part song “Nightmares of our Own Design” bob and weave between different musical influences. Classical music is essentially metal music before electricity, and many classical influences fall in life with the recent release. “Nightmares of our Own Design” as an album feels heavily influenced by Opeth but mixed with a very different, rather unique vocal style. It’s similar to that of Emperor’s vocal style, a raspy mid-scream that is absolutely chilling.

What really separates Svengahli from the other Progressive Death Metal bands is the instrumentation. While it’s true that most Progressive music is instrument oriented, Svengahli’s more focused on creating an atmosphere that one can get lost in. There are many times where the album will restart and I won’t even recognize that all the songs have played. This doesn’t mean that it’s boring or that they all sound the same, but the last three songs mesh together in a beautiful blend of melancholic delivery. There’s a bite to each shift of tune, yet something oddly calming about the more classically-influenced sections of the album.

Overall, even though it’s only four songs long, the album still clocks in at 24 minutes. I am interested to see where Svengahli goes, especially working with so many talented musicians such as Anup Sastry. The only downfall of the album, for me, is that “Writing on the Wall” doesn’t fully feel like it fits. As a stand-alone song, it is wonderful and monstrously displayed, but it doesn’t seem to fit the texture of the remaining three songs. This doesn’t hurt the album as much as one would think, as it cleanses the listening palette to prepare for the story of “Nightmares of our Own Design.”

Rating: 9/10

FFO: Sutrah, Opeth, Emperor