Long before metal had a renaissance in Denver, the members of NightWraith were killing it here. That group formed in 2017, and ever since, guitarist and singer Ben Pitts, drummer Isidro “Spy” Soto, guitarist Igor Panasewicz and bassist J.J. Hilger have been conjuring elements from their previous bands, including Valiomierda, Vimana, Kitezh and To Be Eaten.
Soto delivers thunderous beats and Pitts's vocals are more like a guttural howl; the band also incorporates clean, chant-like singing, pop sensibilities and even elements of blues and Spanish music. Thematically, NightWraith explores paganism and humans' connections to the Earth and each other.
"We definitely wanted to bring in occultism and put that at the forefront of the project," says Pitts." We all dabble in paganism and wanted to bring that theme in. We want to have a spiritual connection with each other as well as with the audience and make it more than just a show. It's almost like a ritual."
NightWraith's brand of spirituality is hardly soothing. The group's recent video for "The Unknown Crown," off of its self-titled debut album, depicts a spiritual awakening that is blistering, aggressive and cathartic.
While NightWraith's music could just as easily set the score to the chaos of city life, the band's inspiration comes from elsewhere.
"The mountains are epic. I personally draw inspiration from all the time I've spent out there. In general, but pretty much in everything I do, even non-music stuff, I look toward the mountains to find inspiration," Pitts says. "You have some time to think about shit that you normally don't have time to think about in the city. You're spending like six hours hiking up this monolithic peak, and you have a lot of time just to be inside your own head."
The video, filmed at the hi-dive, shows excited fans that NightWraith has worked hard to attract over the years in a city that once had a sleepy metal scene.
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"I think things have changed," Pitts says." I think Denver's been overlooked for a long time. I feel like we had to work really hard to just convince bands to pass through here. We had to go the extra mile to set up good shit, make sure good bands are on it, just to show them that Denver does have a good scene. Then we would show them a good time, and then they would keep coming back after that."
See the video, made by Vance Valenzuela, below:
NightWraith album-release show w/ Glacial Tomb and BleakHeart, Saturday, January 12, hi-dive, 7 South Broadway, $10.