With their third full length album hitting the shelves recently, what better time to hear from German black/thrashers Nocturnal. Riding high once again on a wave of Teutonic vitriol, neck snapping riffage and a fine back catalogue, Ave Noctum caught up with bassist Vomitor to chew the fat over what the latest news is from their world of darkness and death…
AN: Firstly, congratulations on the new album – as my review attested I really think it’s a fine piece of ‘proper’ metal. How has the general feedback been from fans/zines who have heard it so far?
V: Hails & thanks. So far we just got good feedback from zines, fans and friends. But the most important thing is that we’re still satisfied with it.
AN: Where do you think ‘Storming Evil’ stands amongst your other releases in terms of your final perception of it as an artist?
V: This is probably what every band would tell you but we think that this is our best release so far, as we have the strongest line up ever and really put a lot of effort into the songs itself and the recording session.
AN: As a band you have received many great reviews for your previous works. Surely this adds increased pressure on you to deliver another slab of metal that matches (if not betters) ‘Arrival of the Carnivore’ and ‘Violent Revenge’?
V: The only pressure we feel is to satisfy ourselves. We always had things we would have changed after couple of weeks after the recordings. But as I said before on “Storming evil” we’re still more than satisfied with everything and wouldn’t change it at all. If you try to satisfy other people you can just lose.
AN: I must say that you always seem to have excellent artwork on your releases and ‘Storming Evil’ is no exception. Is the artwork ever commissioned specifically for a release? Are there any artists out there who you admire and would like to work on a Nocturnal release in future?
V: Well, for ‘Arrival of the Carnivore’ we’ve sent some songs to Kris Verwimp and asked him if he can create something that comes to his mind while he listens to the songs. The artwork for ‘Violent Revenge’ was already created by our friend Daniel Desecrator from Chile. For ‘Storming Evil’ we got in contact with Phil Lawvere and told him what we have in mind for a cover, got a first sketch from him and we were really blown away. We also think that his style fits perfectly to our music and we were of course big fans of his artwork (Emperors Return/Pleasure to Kill etc).
I would also love to get an artwork from Daniel Desecrator again, as his stuff is simply dark and morbid.
AN: Your song titles on ‘Storming Evil’ revolve around a very dark place (in fact, two songs have the word ‘darkness’ in the title and another two have the word ‘death’). Was this repetition a purposeful thing? Where would you say your lyrics generally stem from?
V: “Storming Evil” is not a concept album, but we tried to write songs (music and lyrical wise) which fit all together to that term. Our lyrics are always about death & darkness and ever will be.
AN: You guys can really pen an incisive riff, it is one of my favourite things about your sound. Besides the monster riffage, I was struck with Tyrranizer’s killer vocals on this album. How do you tend to put songs together when writing? Do you write separately or as a band? Where/when do you tend to do most of your writing of material?
Despite the occasional line-up change, would you say there is much difference between the Nocturnal of 2000 in comparison to the Nocturnal of 2014 in any sense?
V: Avenger wrote all the riffs, usually he comes to the rehearsal place with an idea in his mind and he works it out with the drummer afterwards we add the bass and vocals. But of course everyone can add ideas and especially on Storming Evil we had some discussions on riffs etc. I think this is the first record on which we really worked as band on the songs.
The only thing which changed in the end is the line-up. Avenger, who founded the band, is still the songwriter and I am one of his biggest fans. I’m always impressed when he shows us his new ideas. He has an amazing feeling to play his guitar and write songs. This is the most important thing in music, that you feel the passion. There are a lot of guys who are technical really skilled but with a huge lack of feeling and in the end those bands end up as copycats. Well played, but without feelings and emotions.
AN: Going back in time a few years to the earlier days of Nocturnal, how much do you feel the Darkthrone guys helped your popularity (with Fenriz in particular constantly championing the underground)? I know you already had a decent following, but remember personally that the first time I came across the Nocturnal name was actually in a Fenriz interview (and of course in the years since then, Mr Necro – Darkthrone’s mascot – even wears a Nocturnal patch on the cover art of ‘Darkthrones & Black Flags’)
V: It didn’t help us at all, at least we didn’t feel a directly change in gig offers or deal offers nor that we got a lot of reactions to it. It’s funny that in every interview we do regarding the ‘Storming Evil’ LP that question about that Darkthrone thing comes up!
First I thought it was cool as I really love the old Darkthrone stuff, but after I’ve listened to “Dark thrones and black flags” I wasn’t impressed at all. I would prefer to put on Transilvanian Hunger for example, haha!
AN: So you don’t keep in touch with those guys? Would you consider working with them in a musical sense if an offer appeared?
V: No, we were never really in contact with them. As I said that I’m not a big fan of their “new” stuff I feel no need in working with them,
AN: You’ve released a decent number of split releases in your time, how does the writing for these differ to putting a full length albums worth of material together?
V: Most of the songs are just different versions of already released stuff. I think there are just 1 or 2 singles with exclusive tracks on them. We are not going to release such an amount of splits and 7 inches in general in the future.
AN: So there aren’t any bands that are on your wishlist to do a split release with in the future?
V: If we were to do, it would be with bands we’re really friends with e.g. Procession, Witching Hour, Ketzer, Desaster, Gospel of the Horns or someone like that.
AV: If you had to choose only one; would you have a preference between writing & recording new material, or playing previously written stuff to a live audience?
V: Playing live for sure. We’re not really a band that enjoys being in the studio etc. Being on stage is the best you can have as a band. Feeling the energy of the crowd when they’re freaking out to your songs, then you know why you do all this recording shit.
AN: You seem to keep pretty busy as a band, apart from a few years between your last EP ‘Undead and Dangerous’ and this new album – was there any specific reason for the delay?
V: It was mainly because we had some major line up problems and it took a while to put this one together. But as I said before we’re more than satisfied with the current line up and hope that it will remain till our last days.
AN: I hear a lot of classic thrash in your sound which I love – what would you say your top musical influences are?
V: That’s pretty hard to say as everything you listen to influence you in one way or another. But I always keep saying to questions like that, that the reason why Avenger picked up a guitar ages ago was because of Destruction and I think you can still hear that in his riffs.
AN: Do you listen to any newer/modern bands? What was the last album you listened to which managed to really blow you away?
V: Of course bands like Procession, Degial, Beyond, Ketzer, Witching Hour etc. are just amazing and I could continue the list with 100 more names I guess. The last album which really blew me away was probably “To Reap Heavens Apart“ from Procession, when it comes to current bands.
AN: If there was one riff/song you wish you could’ve written yourself, what would it be?
V: There are a lot. But for me as bass player it would be “Bridge of Death” from Manowar, the song has everything a great track needs. You can be sure that Avenger would choose one song from Destruction!
AN: With the internet having been a mainstay in providing new music for a lot of metal fans for years now, do you see the likes of Bandcamp and other such sites as a help or a hindrance to the metal scene as a whole? i.e, does it mostly allow talent to be given a podium, or does it open the floodgates for a ton of mediocre bedroom projects to saturate our ears?
V: Well as it usual is with stuff like that, it has 2 sides of a coin. Of course it’s good for a band if they can spread their music more easily and get attention to their music, on the other hands some of the bands didn’t put the effort into it as they would probably do if they had to print their own demo and spread them at gigs etc.
Sometimes I think that because it’s so easy to upload and spread your stuff that for many people music lost their value and they just upload crap they put together in their living room after playing an instrument for 2 days. If you have to pay by your own for a studio, printing the demo etc. you think twice if it’s good enough for a release.
AN: A bit of a random/left field one for you here; but I’d like to play a little word association. What are your instant responses to the following:-
Religion – fuck it
U.S.A – for U.S:A
Thrash – unholy
Passion – essential, as it makes you move on
Law – break it
AN: What’s next for Nocturnal in 2014 and beyond?
V: Hopefully to play a lot of gigs, especially outside of Germany/Europe and simply having a good time as a band.
AN: Once all is said and done, if Nocturnal could be remembered for one thing – what would it be?
V: That we’ve kept the Teutonic flag risen.
AN: Thanks for taking the time to answer my questions; I’ll leave the final word(s) to you…
V: Thanks for your support. See you somewhere on the road..
So, there you have it. They certainly have kept their Teutonic flag risen high, and are looking to venture beyond European shores to bring their unholy brand of blackened thrash to a venue near you. Check ‘em out if you get the chance!
(Interview by Lars Christiansen)