Sunday 2 June 2013

Nocturne - Ave Noctem

I've featured my fair share of black metal solo-projects and duos recently, but I figured that one more wouldn't hurt anyone, especially with the US being a hotbed for this type of band at the moment. Nocturne is the solo project of Dan Klein, also of fellow US black/death band Cryptic Fog. Nocturne began in 2009 but had waited until now to release a debut records, the seven track Ave Noctem via Do or Die Records.

1. Pursuance of the Righteous Elucidation
2. The Prodigious Plight
3. Rites of Contrition
4. Ave Noctem
5. Pain of Purity
6. Anxiopath
7. The Abyss

For a solo black metal release, Ave Noctem sounds very clear. The guitars at the start of Pursuance of the Righteous Elucidation sound well produced. The drums don't sound muddied and the bass sits nicely in the background. After the typically grand instrumental build up, the vocals come roaring in. They're of the low rasping variety to start with, but interchange with higher pitched shrieks at times. There are certainly a lot of layers to Nocturne's music. The Prodigious Plight is more of a technical song, with some pretty intense musicianship making for quite a soundscape. The guitar is relentless and the drums are extremely fast at times, especially the kick drum. It definitely carries some of the death metal influence from Dan Klein's other band, Cryptic Fog. There are occasions though when it sound the like the song is skipping, but it isn't, it's just due to the structure and transition within the song.

Nocturne certainly favours lengthy compositions. Rites of Contrition is a menacing song which ways it at about nine and a half minutes. Again, Nocturne relies on the power of the instruments for the most part; allowing the song to build of at it's own pace and only bringing the vocals in at the pointof crescendo. Later during the mid-section, the song sounds strangely upbeat and you forget that you're listening to black metal. There are even some clean vocals too! As with a lot of other black metal, this does take perseverance on behalf of the listener due to the different elements and layers, but if you're an aficionado you'll have no problems and Ave Noctem will surely grow on you.

The title track Ave Noctem is more of an interlude than a full song, with the obligatory running water samples and some really nice, clean guitar. The riffs at the start of Pain of Purity are pretty mesmerising and have a sludgy feel to them. There's also more of a rock n roll vibe going on too, I'm not sure if that's intentional but it actually fits in surprisingly well. That vibe soon disappears though as those rasping growls come back to the forefront of the music. The more menacing vibe returns during Anxiopath and while it not as lengthy as others on Ave Noctem, it's no less listenable and still contains plenty of ideas. I think that's the thing about Nocturne and one-man black metal bands in general, by being solo, they can explore and present their ideas how they want.

Closing song The Abyss is equally as grand as the track, which opened Ave Noctem. It's a sprawling, heady mass of black metal bile, intertwined with some brilliant musicianship. Ave Noctem has really surprised me. If you like black metal and specifically black metal with a difference, hunt this down. You won't regret it!

Talking of The Abyss, you can hear an exclusive stream of that track on my bandcamp page below:-

You can pick a physical copy from Do or Die Records here -

Nocturne -

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