The ‘Blackened Dad Rock’ of Denver’s NightWraith | Westword

The ‘Blackened Dad Rock’ of Denver’s NightWraith

A new metal subgenre.
Nightwraith plays hi-dive Friday, March 18, in support of its new album that releases March 25.
Nightwraith plays hi-dive Friday, March 18, in support of its new album that releases March 25. Courtesy of Nightwraith
Share this:
Benjamin Pitts plays “dad rock,” and he’s proud of it.

The singer and guitarist of Denver metal/rock act NightWraith jokes that the band’s latest single, “Hedonic Adaptation,” can even be classified as “blackened dad rock.”

“We are obviously inspired by a bunch of ’80s heavy metal, and I love when songs kick off with a hot lead, so the goal was to do this in our own way as a nod to the genre," Pitts says. "At the time, we didn’t intend for it to be the first proper song on the album, but we all agreed that this was a great way to set the tone and start things off on the right foot. As we were writing ‘Hedonic Adaptation,’ we realized it was borderline dad rock, but in a good way. As a joke, we coined the term ‘blackened dad rock’ to describe the track, which is what inspired the storyline for the music video. It’s important to have fun and not take yourself seriously all the time.”

The single is from NightWraith’s upcoming album, The Offering, which hits shelves on Friday, March 25, courtesy of Denver's Reaping Scythe Records. The band is playing a release party to promote the album on Friday, March 18, at the hi-dive, with openers Space in Time, Ghosts of Glaciers and Ashes for the Mute. The show starts at 9 p.m.

So what exactly is blackened dad rock, you may be wondering? The group of Pitts, drummer Isidro “Spy” Soto, guitarist Igor Panasewicz, bassist J.J. Hilger and keys player Caleb Jose Tardio have described their sound as Carcass meets Thin Lizzy, Tribulation meets Blue Öyster Cult, or Enslaved meets Steely Dan.

Those are all fair comparisons. There's a heavy helping of prog elements mixed with death-metal essentials. The new single also brings to mind Mastodon or Ghost, particularly Tony Tardio’s synth and organ work.

Basically, it's the perfect band for hanging out, playing Dungeons & Dragons, reading The Witcher novels or just crushing craft beers on the weekend with friends.

The members of NightWraith have been active in the local scene for over a decade, including playing in bands like Primitive Man and In the Company of Serpents, and came together in 2017 to form their current outfit. But NightWraith’s music isn’t necessarily similar to anything any of them have done before. As with his newly coined subgenre phrase, Pitts is proud of The Offering and can’t wait to officially release it into the world.

“This is probably the most ambitious album I have ever worked on, and we had full control of the production, which was really cool. We took a very DIY approach and tried a lot of things that we wouldn’t have considered in the past. For example, we turned the gain way down on all of the rhythm guitars and added additional gain on the organ to compensate. I also changed guitar strings more than I have on any other album; I think we went through about twelve sets of strings,” he explains. “Our engineer, Jacob St. Amand, was awesome to work with. He really went above and beyond for us and invested a lot of time into the project. Our mastering engineer, Pete deBoer, also made the final product sound great by mastering it to half-inch tape, which is something I have always wanted to do.

“This is the album that we’ve always wanted to make," Pitts concludes. "From start to finish, it was about three years of work. I am so excited for people to finally hear these songs.”

NightWraith plays the hi-dive, 7 South Broadway, at 9 p.m. Friday, March 18; tickets are $12-$15.
Can you help us continue to share our stories? Since the beginning, Westword has been defined as the free, independent voice of Denver — and we'd like to keep it that way. Our members allow us to continue offering readers access to our incisive coverage of local news, food, and culture with no paywalls.