Nochnoy Dozor describe themselves as an “ambient, experimental, heavy-throughout-riffs-band from Athens, Greece.” I suppose they’d know better than me, but overall I’m not overly convinced on most of those fronts; I agree that there are heavy riffs. Because I’m generally one to get caught up in semantics, I’ll say I’m not a fan of ascribing the term “experimental” to music unless it legitimately breaks the boundaries of conventional musical expression, which Nochnoy Dozor just doesn’t. It’s more progressive in its approach, bridging genres such as doom, gothic rock, post-rock and ambient music. It’s an effective mix, and it makes for a moody, reasonably unique sound – which is just slightly marred by uninspired vocals.
The most intriguing part of the band is the interplay between the guitars and the synth, which, in fairness to them, do have something of an ambient, Fripp and Eno meets Jim Hall kinda vibe to them, which can be heard during parts of Black Hand and Home Sick Home. The reverberated post-metal/doom style riffs that take over during the EP’s heavier moments are nice, ramping up the dynamic without getting too rock-y to maintain the gloomy atmosphere – highlights include the albums heaviest track, Closer. In particular, the synths are effective and melancholic, with a strained, ambient tone that really helps keep the tension during the EP’s softer moments.
As I mentioned before, the only thing that really lets the band down is the singing. The music is propelled by the bands dual (female) vocalists, who work with each other through a hard-rock vocal to create… well, not quite a soundscape. With apologies to the bands singers (who I’d imagine would’ve sounded great in any other band) I can tell the difference between them if I listen hard, but for the most part they sort of blend together, and there’s something about their delivery that, to me, just sounds sort of amateurish. They’re serviceable singers, but the classic rock belt-y, almost yarling (think Eddie Vedder or, to be less kind, Scott Stapp) vocal delivery that they adopt through most of the EP stops just shy of making me gag. It works best during the heavier sections, and is fine during the soft sections, but occasionally the vocals are soloed (such as during the ending of All Home) which I just hated. It doesn’t kill the EP for me, but I do feel like a more drawn out and ethereal vocal style would’ve worked much better with most of the music. They actually do adopt this style for a brief section during the closer Ben-Hur, and it’s one of the most sublime parts of the album. I don’t think it’s objectively (as far as that term goes when it comes to music) bad, but it is an artistic choice that doesn’t quite work for me.
The EP’s highlights are the tracks Home Sick Home, Closer, and the closer Ben-hur, although most of the tracks have at least one moment of instrumental beauty, mostly from the guitar and synth side of thing to warrant re-listening. It’s a fairly easy listen as well at only six tracks and 25 minutes. I wouldn’t discourage people from checking it out, particularly hard-rock fans who are looking for something a little different.