Daryl Hernandez – Guitars
Sam Sherwood – Drums
Nicolas Rocha – Bass/vocals
2.) Celestial Birds
I normally try not to do track-by-track reviews, but in this case it’s kind of unavoidable: Ex Nihilo is a 2-song EP from US-based Deathkings, though the tracks are 8 and 6 minutes long respectively, so there’s still a decent amount of material even then.
The sound is a melding of sludge and death-doom, like Crowbar crossed with early Paradise Lost. It’s rough and dirty, but always with a pervading feeling of doom and despair, delivered via ever-present gloomy melodies. Both songs are filled with grime and bitterness, but the punkier side of sludge is given a bit more of a doom metal polishing, albeit leaving us with something that’s still solidly nihilistic. There’s aggression tempered with a mournfulness under the surface.
“Absolution” starts with a dissonance almost reminiscent of Meshuggah’s work, shifts into something quieter in the middle, then ends on a mixture of the two, returning to loud discordance tempered with that same central melody in the background. “Celestial Birds” is a big, booming song, swinging its arms around right from the get-go. The riffing is vintage doom, a simple yet effective rhythm of pain and struggle. Like the first song, it brings in a bit more melody towards the end, incorporated organically without completely shifting gears.
The atmosphere the band creates is an effective one, and there’re some definite signs of good song-craft here. But it lacks truly memorable or stand-out moments: most of the highlights can only really be heard when you’re listening for them specifically, and on a more general listen it risks sounding too repetitive, even at just 15 minutes. For big sludge-doom fans, this one definitely has the makings of something special, but for wider appeal I feel Deathkings need to do something more with what they’ve got.