Christian Kolf, lead songwriter of Germany’s Owl, knows how to keep himself busy. Fortunately he never seems to sacrifice quality for a full schedule.
Decibel readers likely know Kolf best from his work in Valborg. That band remains criminally under-appreciated. Its militaristic rhythmic attack doesn’t carry over into Owl. It’s gothic undertones and evil-but-crisp production, however do.
2018 will be the first year that Valborg haven’t released anything since 2009. Kolf didn’t take a vacation. Owl already released an excellent EP this year, Orion Phoenix. On that release he finds the desolate sweet spot that Katatonia and Secrets of the Moon sometimes hit. It’s romantic, depressed and vicious at once.
Nights in Distortion scratches a similar itch. The opening track “We Are Made For Twilight” begins as if it could be a stripped down cut from the first Dream Theater record until Kolf hits the distortion switch. Previously released track “Transparent Monument” begins as competent Peaceville Three worship and just before turning into syrup Patrick Schroeder drops the double bass.
Kolf and Schroeder repeat this trick over and over —they drip gothic goodness until the song is nearly soaking, then shift gears into metal with admirable precision. For that reason, Nights in Distortion is one of the most finely-tuned gothic doom releases of the year, one that never forgets to be mean when it has to be.