Nokturnal Mortum - _The Voice of Steel_
by: Kostas Sarampalis (
I was never a huge fan of Nokturnal Mortum. _Goat Horns_ was good and several songs from their following albums appealed to me, yet the band kept me interested only fleetingly. Folk-ish black metal is not my cup of tea. In fact, it rather annoys me, since most of the bands that perform this style do not have the skill to blend the two completely different genres into a cohesive and tasteful result (Primordial being the shiny exception to the rule, but then again, their folkloric tendencies are treated as inspiration mostly). And do not get me started on some of the more prominent Finnish bands with certain troll-like imagery.Which is why I did not warm up to _The Voice of Steel_'s three minute "Intro" opener and its totally folk (but admittedly rather dark) sound. Onwards to "Voice of Steel", more folk instruments amidst the mid-paced black metal. This is where I lost my initial interest and put the album aside for a week or so. Thankfully, I gave it another try -- and I was gobsmacked. Not to meander with my words too much, _The Voice of Steel_ is a stunning piece of folk -inspired- black metal, which does not stay within the defined (and confined) boundaries of the style and more often than not ventures into psychedelic rock territories in the vein of Pink Floyd. It is incredibly well written, masterfully performed, cohesive, engaging and unpredictable.From "Valkyrie" onwards, the album grabs you and never -ever- lets you go. Be it the incredible midsection wall of melodic guitars in "Valkyrie", the soaring clean vocals of "Ukraine" (a song that makes excellent use of folk instruments without making it sound naff), the jaw dropping awesomeness (it's a word) of the opening guitars in "My Dream Islands"... I could go on and on. And on. "By Path of the Sun" is as heavy metal as a black metal song can be. "Sky of Saddened Nights" suddenly brings the pace down, being almost unplugged and full of sorrowful melodies. Saving the best for last, the album closes with the twelve minute monster of a song "White Tower". An incredible, absorbing and utterly intelligent piece of music, edging between the psychedelic rock and black metal genres so beautifully that it truly captivates the listener.I never cared much for extreme ideologies that certain bands promote, any more than I care about the ridiculous black metal clichés, so this band's rather tasteless political views were never a factor in my enjoyment (or lack of) of their music. But it is definitely nice to see the band concentrate on their song writing and music this time. Truly one of the best albums of the decade. (Half a point deducted for the intro and the rather bland first proper song!)
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