Nocturnal Fear - _Excessive Cruelty_
(Moribund Records, 2011)
by: Dan Lake (7 out of 10)
Confession: I have a hard time enjoying thrash metal. Let the beatings begin now. I listened to straight-up rock music for a decade before metal ever tweaked my teats, and when I want a chest-beating festival of denim and leather, I'll pull out those old gems. Extreme music to me isn't about reaching something angrier but some place deeper; rhymed quatrains about the atrocities of war, real or imagined, just don't get me there. That said, if any mirror-shaded, steel-studded patch-bazaar-on-parade ever pinched my harmonics, Nocturnal Fear might be that band.

On _Excessive Cruelty_, these Motor City macho men deal out gleeful carnage on postmodern battlefields stained by trampled bodies and chemical holocaust. Drums burst and blast through every blood-drunk charge; laser-guided riffs rain from an iron-streaked sky. The album's speed and fearsomely rasped vocals serve to blacken the proceedings sufficiently to resemble a less mystical Melechesh. Solos are brief but blazing and beautiful. Once in a while the frenzied four-piece wield a half-second of silence as forcefully as any double bass bludgeoning. Of course, rhymed quatrains about the atrocities of war abound. "Death from above" is invoked in more than one song, along with equally obvious combat quips ("massacre the enemy", "nowhere to hide", "watching you die", "your death warrant has now been sealed" and so on). In a refreshing respite, "I Am War" yields its first forty seconds to a (menacingly) hushed sample from 1979's original "Alien" movie. Nothing quite raises hackles like the eerily phased voice of a beheaded Ian Holm and Sigourney Weaver's stricken space heroine. Its placement is an inspired choice, but after _Excessive Cruelty_ has run its course several times, its inclusion highlights the fact that little of the album's music is quite so compelling or cinematic as that one ominous moment.

_Excessive Cruelty_ deals in predictable (though enjoyable) levels of death and destruction. Nocturnal Fear won't come near your third eye, unless they decide to feed it a few rounds of high velocity lead before moving on to the next poor turd without a taste for their brand of heavy artillery speed thrash. Whether or not you enlist could depend entirely on your association with the cover art: are you the armor-clad slasher, or do the eyes in that be-spined, blood-caked skull in his fist look just a touch... sad?


(article published 30/9/2011)

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