NocturnalAh, yes. Thrash done properly. Nose-bleedingly fast, guitar solos with a life of their own, slowing down every now and then but only momentarily and only really to prevent anyone in the mosh pit having a seizure. Nocturnal Graves are one of the Australian hoards where the number of bands appears to outnumber the musicians playing in them and for whom heavy metal is not so much a community but a club they use to beat you to your senses. Founder Nuclear Exterminator was a drummer in Destroyer666 which might just give you some idea of where this is going. So far they’ve hovered in the background a little and progress was clearly slowed by various band members peeling away a few years ago. They’ve had a few semi-decent releases and an enjoyable full-length in 2007. But nothing they produced before would have quite prepared anyone for this.

The recent arrival of Ian ‘Shrapnel’ Gray has been a turning point. In fact, to say the revised line-up and new label has given the band a new lease of life would be a criminal understatement. Shrapnel, also formerly of the Destroyer666 parish until last year, has not only stamped his mark all over …. From The Bloodline Of Cain, I’d venture to say this sounds less like Nocturnal Graves last album and more like Phoenix Rising. His razor sharp guitar signature pretty much hits you from the opening bars and new levels of tight performance and production have made this into keenly crafted, kerosene-soaked blackened thrash that has propelled this outfit into entirely new realms. Less of the heavy-as-hell speed thrash that Nocturnal Graves seem to be focused on previously and more demon-possessed, total annihilation.

Favourite topics: the evil of mankind and the inevitable punishment due; Satan; war; the usual horrific, end-of-the-world, soul-sucked-out-by-a-demon-type stuff. Nocturnal Graves (I always assumed they were mainly for day-time use but let’s go with it) is seriously enjoyable metal that will not so much annoy your neighbours as allow you to aim your speakers and watch them pop. A little less black than Destroyer perhaps and certainly less melodic. But the same direct, fast, heavy, almost comedy levels of metal. The cork almost pops by the time the band gets to the frenzied Iron Command. Then things finally and blessedly slow down just a little for the surprisingly rousing and epic The Great Adversary (which could almost have been left over from one of the last couple of Destroyer albums) and the final track …From The Bloodline Of Cain – clearly destined to be a crowd pleaser.

What is perhaps most remarkable is the almost perfect meeting here between the chaos of thrash metal, the break-neck precision of death metal with black metal techniques that combine into a tornado of sound held together, it seems at first, on a wing and a prayer. But the chaos is so masterfully controlled within the maelstrom that Nocturnal Graves becomes a wonder to behold. Perhaps too linear an experience for some but this is certainly going to appeal to the death metal and hard-core thrash end of the market. It perhaps goes without saying that fans of Aussie death metal in general and Destroyer666 in particular will likely find this irresistible too. The only question remaining is whether this is all done with a completely straight face or just an evil, maniacal grin?

(8/10 Reverend Darkstanley)