Review: Nocturnus AD – Paradox 9.5

  • Nocturnus AD
  • Paradox
  • Death Metal/thrash
  • USA
  • 2019
  • 9.5/10

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I’m familiar with Nocturnus but not Nocturnus AD, so when I first heard this I was like, “This is an old sound” and yes it is, because this a Mike Browning project, who was in Nocturnus. Another reason it felt so familiar is because this is meant as a follow up the The Key which is objectively a death metal classic released in 1990 by Nocturnus. I think it serves that purpose well, even with the album art. It’s good to get back to a death metal release, May has been a stoner doom month for sure. So time to dig in!

I don’t mean old school just in the sense that the music style is from the 80s/90s, I mean it in the way that I feel like only an older band could play this. I don’t feel like any new bands would have the history and pure experience throughout metal in order to play it authentically, without being a homage. This feels like new old metal and I’m really digging it. Especially with all of the more extreme modern death bands, it’s good to hear something where the vocalist has a rhythm and there’s guitar worshiping solos everywhere. Sometimes many times in the one song, but as a guitarist I’m glad.

 

Lyrically it can vary, I think the opening track is written to be as close to The Key as possible to establish that idea, with rhyming focused lyrics about Satan related stories. The vocal delivery of this wasn’t as appealing to me as the delivery of the lyrics that weren’t focused on rhyme but more story telling. I’ve learned though that is because he follows the rhythm more than the guitar melody to create a more primal feeling, kinda cool tidbit to learn and it makes a lot of sense considering he is drumming and doing vocals. This comes down to personal preference. The rest of the tracks showcase the improved song writing since The Key.  I love the rest of the lyrics because they are essentially the tales of the Lovecraft character Abdul Alhazred and many others, with these images of mad Arabs and desert places. 3 Seals of Masshu is a reference to the Necronomicon that Alhazred supposedly had written but we’ll never know as he was consumed by an invisible monster in a market place in front of many witnesses. If you like metal and haven’t read these shorts, do it, because they are rad and probably the reason this album is interesting to me. Lovecrafts whole shit is free online due to copyright lapse: Here and that Abdul Alhazred link will help you find the specific stories.

There is a symbol in history, that was one of Three 
The others could be used alone, but one must never be shown 
For if seen with the naked eye, your soul will eternally die. 

Visions of the Mad Arab, 3 Seals of Masshu, a ritual being performed. 
Priests of Nar Marratu, Conjuring Great Kutulu, from Sunken Varloorni. 
The Bandar Sign, The space, between the lines 
The Bandar Sign, From the Tree behind. 
Conjuring the Fire God, Lord of The Watchers, Who Dwell in Ancient UR 
Three symbols on a stone, glowing flaming red, Gate to The Outside 

– The Bandar Sign

So yes, a Lovecraft tale for sure, something I can always appreciate in my heavy music, it can’t get old because the source material hasn’t gotten old, it’s classic, timeless as with much of Nocturnus’ work. I’m sure The Key is also about this stuff but like I said, they’re lyrics have improved so the old ones are more vague about it. The other tracks on this album focus more on the ancient cosmos, specifically the Outer Gods and The Great Old Ones that are ever warring or banishing each other (Cthulhu is only on earth because The Outer Gods banished him there in an ocean prison where he speaks in dreams through the waves). I really wish I hadn’t misplaced my copy of The Cthulhu Mythos Enecyclopedia Or I would go through each track and highlight a summary of what’s going on, couldn’t accurately do it from memory. But here’s some more lyrics:

The Great Old Ones have now appeared, in The Star Chamber 
Denizens of The Ancient Ones, from the Black Grimoire 
Transplutonic entities, from the Outer Gateways 
Forbidden Wisdom, holds their hidden power 

Awakened from, their dreaming state, Ophidian current, radiates 
From the spells, I create, Guardians of, the Hidden Gate 

Cosmic power reverberates, in the atmosphere 
Dynamic energy concentrates, forming a portal 
Transcendental consciousness, has awakened 
As they begin to permeate, into the chamber 

– The Return Of The Lost Key

The album art was done by Timbul Cahyono – Instagram – who despite doing art for a major band, has fuck all following so go add him and change that please. It’s a detailed piece that emulates the original The Key artwork well as you can see here:

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As someone who likes to focus on themes more than sounds. “Old school death metal” is literally all I need to say about this album musically, sorry, “Top notch” needs to go in there. If you combine the high quality sound, mixing, presentation and the fact that it’s a theme I love, this is a really great album for me. I just wish the vocals were a bit more synced instrumentally because sometimes he’s just singing over a riff that doesn’t really contribute to his vocals, it’s like they’re playing separately, again because of that rhythm focused vocal style which is a fairly unique take. There’s a few different takes across this record but overall considering Mike Browning is the only original member, this rips hard.

9.5.

 

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