Nocturnus - Nocturnus (1993)Release ID: 2536

Nocturnus - Nocturnus (1993) Cover
Daniel Daniel / April 10, 2024 / Comments 0 / 0

Florida technical death metallers Nocturnus were a fairly big player in our household from very early on in their recording career. I was lucky enough to discover their 1990 debut album “The Key” shortly after it was released & purchased a copy on cassette. It showcased a highly ambitious band of talented musicians that were looking to push the envelope when it came to both atmospherics, imagery & technique & I found it to be a very solid release indeed. Perhaps not the undeniable classic that many death metal fans will have you believe it is but a worthy purchase that has commanded consistent revisits over the years. 1992’s follow-up album “Thresholds” simply wasn’t in the same caliber from what I remember of it although it was certainly worth a listen at the time & didn’t discourage me from picking up this month’s The Horde feature release (i.e. Nocturnus’ self-titled 7” from 1993) on vinyl immediately after it was released. I don’t remember much about it now to be honest & have no idea what happened to the record I owned but I do recall being a touch underwhelmed even if I certainly found entertainment in it. I’m interested to see how those recollections stack up now actually as I recently revisited “The Key” & it’s renewed my interest.

The ”Nocturnus” 7” is nothing more than a two-song single but includes two previously unreleased non-album tracks intended to showcase the band’s brand new lineup. Bassist Emo Mowery had now filled the empty position that was filled by session musician Chris Anderson on the “Thresholds” album while James Marcinek had now joined the fold at the expense of founding member & band leader Mike Browning (Morbid Angel/Acheron) who had been controversially axed. The two songs take a similar stylistic approach to the one found on “The Key” but there are a few notable differences & characteristics that are worth pointing out.

The first & most obvious thing you’ll notice about this release is the shocking production job which is extremely rough & sees Nocturnus’ trademark flashy guitars being largely nullified. It’s a real shame because this flaw goes a long way to ensuring that the record was never going to have much of an impact, even if you absolutely loved the song-writing. Front man Dan Izzo had been brought in for the “Thresholds” album to enable Browning to focus purely on his drum kit. Here we see him trying awfully hard to sound like notorious Deicide vocalist Glen Benton & doing a reasonable job of it too. In fact, I’d have to suggest that it was a good move to swap him in for Browning as his more angry & aggressive delivery would seem to me to be a better fit for a death metal band. So would the drumming of Marcinek actually, at least I’d take it over the simplistic contribution that Browning gave us on “The Key”. The keyboards of Louis Panzer are still on show but don’t play as prominent a role in these compositions which was an interesting move given that this was one of the major drawcards that was seeing people flocking to Nocturnus. The other was the consistent layers of ultra-shredding guitar solos that were a majorly exciting prospect for this budding young lead guitarist but, once again, the solos have been toned down significantly here which I find to be a really strange decision. Perhaps that’s why we’ve seen these two tracks isolated on a dedicated single? I dunno but it was pretty annoying that Nocturnus had dropped a good chunk of their signature features.

When taken for what they are though, these two songs aren’t too bad & certainly offer enough to keep me interested & entertained. The lengthier “Possess The Priest” has a slight edge over the more aggressive “Mummified” but there’s not a lot between them as they’re both decent enough examples of the technical death metal subgenre. I’ve often seen people trying to utilize the progressive metal tag with this record but I don’t think that’s appropriate as this material is far more consciously technical than it is conceptually expansive. The riffs can sometimes be quite thrashy but I never feel that I’m listening to anything other than a death metal artist at any stage.

So, it would seem that the “Nocturnus” 7” single is bit of a mixture of positives & negatives overall, isn’t it? The production is arguably the most unfortunate & release-defining element but I’m pleased that Nocturnus possessed enough class to overcome that failure to give us a reasonable record nonetheless. Sadly, I can’t see it being enough to draw me back to the single at any point in the future but I don’t think your average Death. Atheist or Pestilence fan will find it to be too repulsive, even if it’s not on the same level as the universally worshipped releases that those bands were dishing out during that period. But then, I’m not sure I ever saw Nocturnus on the same level as those artists in the first place. Not many are though to be fair.

Sonny Sonny / April 10, 2024 / Comments 0 / 0

Nocturnus are a band it took me a little while to get in to, but once I got to grips with their debut, The Key, I enjoyed it enormously. Nocturnus is a 7" EP from three years later and following some drama around the departure of founder member, drummer and vocalist on The Key, Mike Browning. Firstly, where you listen to it could make a difference to your opinion. I first found it on YouTube, but the sound is terrible, demo quality and muffled to hell, but the version on Spotify (which is listed as a 2001 release, so may be a remastered version) is much clearer-sounding and definitely superior to the YT version.

There are two tracks on offer here, totalling ten and a half minutes runtime. the "A" side is "Possess the Priest", which is a six-minute slab of glorious Morbid Angel-worshipping OSDM and is my favourite of the two tracks with the transitions from the slower sections to the quicker and vice-versa getting my fists pumping and blood rushing in a good, old-fashioned adrenaline surge. The keyboards are still very much present but, as with The Key, they are quite thin-sounding and merely act as atmospheric support for the riffs. "B"-side "Mummified" sounds a bit like Death during their transition phase from conventional death metal to to prog-tech-death gods and, songwriting-wise, pushes a little bit too far into tech death territory for my preference and, without Chuch Schuldiner's songwriting prowess, it ends up sounding too disjointed for me. Still, it doesn't outstay it's welcome and when coupled with such a great "A"-side the release as a whole works very well as a short EP.

UnhinderedbyTalent UnhinderedbyTalent / April 01, 2024 / Comments 0 / 0

At just two tracks and ten minutes in length, Nocturnus' self-titled EP from some two decades ago makes for a concise feature release.  Coming six years before what was to prove to be their final full length release (Ethereal Tomb), this single/EP captures the band at their technical best.  Pressing their urgent and interesting style of death metal on the listener, those signature synths are in fine form adding symphonic flourishes to the otherwise scathing tech-death on show here.

The rabid gallop of the riffs coupled with the bold pace changes and mesmirising leads are examples of a band in fine form.  Sad that they decided to split not long after this release as the potential over these two tracks is really promising, capturing the best bits of The Key and Thresholds.  With Mike Browning fired from the band and the band name trademarked by the remaining members this was the only release to feature James Marcinek on the drums.  A combination of some less than satisfactory production work and the fact that James was no Mike Browning ensured that the drum work sort of just sat in the background whilst everything else drove the music forward. 

There is a sense of disconnect with the instrumentation at certain points during Mummified for me with those snths sounding a tad wayward in places.  However, Possess the Priest is a fine slab of tech-death presented with a real sense of direction.  It is hard to score this at much more than a three however given the short runtime and the fact that one of the two tracks is clearly inferior to the other.


Release info

Release Site Rating

Ratings: 4 | Reviews: 3


Release Clan Rating

Ratings: 3 | Reviews: 3


Cover Site Rating

Ratings: 1


Cover Clan Rating

Ratings: 1

The Horde
Death Metal

Technical Death Metal

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