Although the spiritual home of black metal lies in Scandinavia, its impact can be felt rumbling around most of our beleaguered planet, and although Australia might not be the first country you think of when considering icy black metal, the land down under have spawned numerous proponents of the dark art over the years. One such example is Adelaide’s Nocturnal who, having been conceived in the mid 90s by mastermind P Solus, released two demos and two albums, but sadly this was the last we heard from the band, and I wrongly assumed that they had been lost to the metal archives.
Nineteen years later, with A Frore recruited onto drums, the third album, ‘The Greater Emptiness’ has been dropped, continuing the legacy. Across the five tracks on offer, the zeitgeist of the second wave of black metal is captured perfectly though oppressive rasping vocals, pulsating rhythms and icy riffs.
I’m not going to dissect the album track by track as I feel that it was one piece of work and so prefer to reflect upon it as such. Suffice to say that during the 30 minutes or so, there is an overwhelming sense of jeopardy and anguish set to a backdrop of melancholy as the album builds with its evocative melodies and languishing riffs creating thick swathes of bleak, black metal.
The band label themselves as depressive suicidal black metal, and although I can certainly hear elements of this when the rhythms rumble rather than pummel, I think they have outgrown this label and have got at least one foot in the domain of atmospheric black metal. Whatever, the label, this is a stunning release that completely surpassed my expectations and is well worth a listen if you like your back metal a little more contemplative and introspective.
(9/10 Andy Pountney)