‘Industrial Black Noise’ it says here and in that, I think it’s fair to say that ‘Fury Nocturnus’ delivers. Across fourteen tracks, this US-based trio clearly do their utmost to convey an ambience of impenetrable churning malice – of demented rituals dedicated to the void-black malice of the abyss, there’s not a second of compromise on what has clearly been a carefully-crafted tribute to darkness and death.
In this, ‘Fury Nocturnus’ in part delivers – however, there’s something about the record that simply does not quite hit home with me. Put simply, for all the liberal use of dissonant synth sounds, droning guitar/bass distortion, eerie samples and distant, howling vocals, it really isn’t actually that involving a listen. Crucially, the atmosphere of encroaching, sinister devilry they are trying so hard to create fails to convince. To put it crudely, it’s simply not that scary.
Part of the problem is undoubtedly due to the production – it all sounds a little thin, frankly, the washes of noise seeming distant and untroubling. When they do lock into something more structured and song/riff based (such as ‘Darkness’ or ‘Ignite The Torch’), the percussion sounds are absurdly tinny, clattering unthreateningly in the distance whilst the guitars fizz away in a nasal fashion with little impact.
The vocals can be effective and the more rhythmic growling on ‘Battle Winds of Desecration’ and the martial bellowing on ‘Hordes Rise Now’ lends the album some much-impact in its latter stages. Frustratingly however, peaks of genuine malice are few and far between on ‘Fury Nocturnus’ with the same ideas being recycled again and again (you’ll tire of that single percussive anvil/bell sample long before I do). Yes, it’s claustrophobic and superficially ‘evil’ sounding but there’s no real sense of genuine unpleasantness here. After a while, the constant distortion drone and croaky, echo-soaked voices burbling away about ‘shadows’ and ‘darkness’ starts to get very old indeed.
T.O.M.B. have been at this game for some time now – eighteen years in fact – and given the high-profile nature of this release and the plethora of respected guest contributions involved, one could be forgiven for expecting more. Sadly, this record is something of a disappointment, feeling rather anaemic and a touch amateurish in both concept and execution.
(6/10 Frank Allain)