Nyctophobic – War Criminal Views

Genre: Grindcore/Death Metal | Label: Morbid Records
Location: Germany | Listen: Bandcamp

Nyctophobic were a grindcore band from Germany who I seldom see mentioned, even among fans of the genre. They were active for 17 years before calling it quits, and released two full lengths in that time. Their debut from 1996, “War Criminal Views,” is a crushing display of death metal infused grindcore that is sure to appeal to fans of all the classics, as it has plenty in common with the likes of Agathocles, Brutal Truth, Napalm Death, Excruciating Terror, and especially their fellow German grinders, Blood.

Blood is clearly the most similar band to Nyctophobic, as they fuse together death metal riffs with grindcore structures, and they even shared members between the bands at one point (although this record contains no member connections to Blood). The songs don’t waste any time pummeling the listener with riff after riff. There’s some primitive grooves that come through the downtuned guitars, which is certainly reminiscent of what Excruciating Terror was doing at the same time over in America (both bands’ album covers are certainly reminiscent of each other too). They’ll throw these groovier parts in between primitive jackhammer blastbeats, which are usually played underneath simple tremolo picked death metal riffs.

Lyrically, Nyctophobic focuses on themes that are fairly common in grindcore – sociopolitical topics, anti-war, anti-racism, etc. This is certainly in line with Napalm Death, Agathocles, and Brutal Truth. Songs like “Responsiblities” get into some Napalm Death “FETO” territory with both the riffs and pacing, which is some god-tier grindcore as far as I’m concerned. Speaking of Brutal Truth, the way these lyrics are delivered certainly remind me of “Extreme Conditions Demand Extreme Responses,” as they’ll layer in high pitched screams and low death growls at the same time, and the highs sound a lot like Kevin Sharpe does on that record. They also utilize some pitchshifting effects, which also draws comparison back to Agathocles. The dynamics in these vocals certainly translate into a good variety for these shorter songs.

The production is fairly on point for mid 90’s grindcore, especially with it’s distorted bass that sounds absolutely grimy. The drums sound somewhat raw, but in a very appropriate way. The snare doesn’t get lost in the blasting sections, nor does the kick. The way all these rumblings come together is again very much like Agathocles’ “Theatric Symbolisation of Life,” which they even go as far to cover the title track on that album, as if to tell unsuspecting listeners what to expect. There’s a lot of samples of dialogue throughout this record that kind of sets the tone with the lyrical themes. Sometimes they feel like they drag out a little too much, but that is only a minor complaint.

If you like grindcore that leans more into death metal, “War Criminal Views” is a necessary listen, and honestly should be mentioned in the same breath as the bands I’ve compared this record to. It’s a pretty straight forward record that has enough dynamics between blistering fast sections and groovier parts to drive it home. It’s a full 40 minutes too, which by modern grind standards is a bit long, but the way Nyctophobic utilizes the time makes it feel very complete.