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Few would accuse Nocternity of being one of the more prolific or 'busy' bands in their scene, but the empty aural landscape since their 2003 sophomore Onyx has at least been littered with some EP and split releases, not the least of which was the last, Harps of the Ancient Temples (2007), which was in my estimation the pinnacle of the band's subtly atmospheric sledgehammer approach to their genre. Five years hence, we are at last treated to a pair of newer tracks, but while they stay firmly on guard in the Greeks' aesthetic camp, they do absolutely nothing to further their position on the battlefield...
Nocternity have always been about creating this dark, distant and incredibly bleak envelope through which they pummel along at a barbaric pace, and here is no exception. The EP was recorded on an 8-track recorder, and it's certainly got a very oblique, murky feel, with the bass lines just as loud as the guitars and only the vocals and tinny tremolo melodies coming out on top. The drums offer little more than a mechanistic charge in the background, leaving the vocals and guitars to captivate the audience. Daemon of Limbonic Art replaces Whyrhd on the vocals this time, and he's got a sufficient enough, ghastly rasp to match the subdued din of the music, joined by some deeper growls that hover on the edge of perception. There are a few bright synthesizers implemented (in particular the late moments of the first tune "Titans"), and the bass is juicier than you'll normally hear on a stock black metal recording, but all of this is useless with songs so devoid of compelling riffs...
Each of the two tunes is a 'universe' until itself, with "Titans" being the faster paced, at the cost of seemingly unbroken cycles of monotony that had me checking my watch only about 2-3 minutes in. "River of Woe" is more spacious and experimental, with sparse percussion and a lot of guitars being used in a funereal sense or as sheer ambiance. Unfortunately, despite the variation of the pair, there is naught here but a pretty mundane 14 minutes of blackened emptiness that evokes only a sense of numbness and ennui. I did not exactly hold up high expectations, but Harps of the Ancient Temples at least had one kick ass tune and a fascinating Vangelis cover. The content this time around is incredibly dry and uninspired, so one has to wonder what else they've got going on these past five years? I'm sure Nocternity is more of a project than a full time thing, but even then...this draws blanks. The decision to record with older equipment is admirable and speaks of an impulse to really gnaw at the roots of black metal, but these guys are surely better than this.