Nocturnal Depression were formed in 2004 and since their inception this French black metal horde have released 8 full length albums and a massive 5 demos and 8 split efforts, with an array of comrades such as Funeral Rip, Wedard, Kaiserreich and most recently Psychonaut to highlight just a few.

Nocturnal Depression are ready to unleash their latest beast, and this is one that is going to wash your soul with ambiance and grandeur aplenty.

A tide of a mood opens the album with sounds of swirling wind and a delicate musical score all under the moniker of ‘Drowning Myself’ before another atmospheric journey begins, the title track, this time with a definitive black metal identity. Lord Lokhraed injects the vocals and these haunt you with a raw demonic flavour, delivered with anguish and multiple dimensions. Avskrius on the strings creates a flowing and rounded backbone on which Krahne and Morkhod build with the bass and drums respectively.

‘Living In A Mass Grave’ builds from a plodding and measured foundation. Lord Lokhraed sounds pained and exhibits more of a murderous and raw sound than has been exuded on the previous track. The guitar of Avskrius is atmospheric and Morkhod adds well balanced drumbeats and kicks to add to the layers. The vocals intertwine with the rest of the track to create a mesmerising fluctuating and multi-faceted number.

‘Solitude And Despair Again’ sees a prolonged instrumental intro, a delicate and precise guitar picking leads the way before it becomes more solid and robust with the addition of some growls and tortured vocals, again seemingly measured and assured. Ambience is at the forefront of this one and drums can be sensed sensitively sitting in the background, injecting just enough presence to dilute the guitars and vocals in order to maintain the atmosphere that has been built so far.

‘Slit My Wrists’ is the heaviest on the release so far, Lord Lokhraed shows a different angle to the vocals, and the drums are the definite conductor, the leader on this affair. There appears to be more venom and spite to Lord Lokhraeds efforts, whilst lying parallel to the rhythm and curves of his bandmates. The depth on offer in this track is incredible and it is driven with angst and venom whilst maintaining a rounded and smooth soul. This is a standout track on the album and has angles and direction overflowing from the blood curdled goblet.

‘Farewell Letter’ has more of a grandiose and majestic splendour than its siblings have previously shown. The vocals introduce an element of almost spoken word at times and the track continues adding the atmosphere which its predecessors have helped instigate and cement. This is the shortest track on the release, aside from the opener, and it almost doesn’t allow enough time for full exposure of the black arts from this French crew to be appreciated fully.

‘Muse Of Suicide’ opens with a crisp and clear guitar doodle before Lord Lokhraed and Morkhod appear with malevolent and venomous vocals sitting alongside a punctuating drumbeat. The drums come to the forefront within the maturity of the track and these are joined by a delicate and subdued consistent knocking of a bell in the background. The vocals are fluid and spat out with pain and total anguish, creating a raw and dirty undertone to the track.

‘Reveries’ close the frost bitten and wind-swept landscape with a background of swirling winds and sombre and subdued piano work. These four plus minutes is almost the perfect piece to allow you to warm down from the epic and intertwining panorama you have just carved your soul open to.

This is a refreshing atmospheric shift to the almost saturated raw and dirty landscape of the black metal world that we are seeing at the moment. If you are after a behemoth of a ‘relaxing’ beast, then this may just be one to put on your chilled out black metal playlist.

(8/10 Phil Pountney)