Nokturnal Mortum - _To the Gates of Blasphemous Fire_
(The End, 1999)
by: Brian Meloon (
This is Nokturnal Mortum's second full-length release, following on the heels of _Goat Horns_ [CoC #31]. This album follows in much the same style of epic black metal with significant classical and folk influences and, of course, their trademark dual keyboardists. However, this time around, the band has decided to opt for a more brutal and straightforward attack, downplaying the keyboards. That's not to say that the keyboards are any less interesting than they were, just that they're buried deeper in the mix. The music is still melodic, but the melodies aren't as prominent, and the music seems consistently faster to me. Much of the album has the dark atmosphere you'd expect from a brutal black metal album, but there are a few sections which are a little too happy and don't quite fit. The playing is superb: the drumming is precise and fast, the guitar and bass work is solid and the keys are excellent. The vocals are mostly rasped, with a few sections of clean spoken vocals. The production is powerful, with a full guitar sound and distinct drums. It's brutal without drowning out or blurring any of the instruments. Overall, I like this album, but I don't find it ultimately satisfying. It's just a little too straightforward and not diverse enough for me. I think that fans of melodic (but not over-melodic) black metal will enjoy it, but it's not the direction I was hoping they'd go.
(article published 3/14/1999)
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