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The Screams: Eye of Nix Reissue “Black Somnia”

black somnia cover

The screams. Oh, the screams.

Joy Von Spain does a lot of things — modern dance/performance art, label owner, plus she’s a multi-instrumentalist with classical training — and every one of them very well. Her screams, though, command attention, and nowhere were those screams as devastating and beautiful as on Black Somnia, the 2017 sophomore album from Seattle-based outfit Eye of Nix. It’s set for reissue today via Prophecy Productions.

Von Spain deserves mention in the same breath as Diamanda Galás and Siouxsie Sioux despite lacking the range of the former and the pop allusions of the latter: she shares an uncompromising attitude and a fervent desire to make her voice a conduit for catharsis. Even when on the dark folk of “Fear’s Ascent” which sounds like a Greek Orthodox dirge using her eerie voice to intone a rapturous hymn, the intensity is astounding.

Yet it’s the screams that stand out. Screams that are crazed, hyperbolic yelps on “Wound and Scar.” Screams that become a hypnotic séance during “The Curse.” Screams that are blackened and operatic while contemplating “A Hideous Visage.” If she did nothing else, those screams would be enough. Comparisons to Chelsea Wolfe will be made and they will be mostly wrong. Wolfe’s roots as a singer-songwriter with dark folk despair is wonderful, but Von Spain — either despite or maybe because of her eclectic background — is more metallic and classic Goth than most of her peers.

Black Somnia originally released on Von Spain’s own Scry Recordings — the album is now being reissued in vinyl and, for the first time, CD. The lucky 250 folks who sold out the first release batch of LPs can check out Von Spain’s project To End It All whose Scourge of Woman came out last month. It is post-apocalyptic, post-industrial desolation as seen through the withered gaze of a woman who is done with this shit, all of it.

Yes, there are screams. Of course there are screams.

The reissue of Black Somnia sets in motion what will likely be a rising profile for Eye of Nix. The new label and the band’s first East Coast shows — including a spot at Prophecy Fest US in Brooklyn next weekend — are in place as the band gears up for an as-yet-untitled 2019 release. It’s a pretty safe bet Von Spain will still have something to scream about.

Order the reissued Black Somnia on clear vinyl, black vinyl, and CD.

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