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Though it's not a heavily riff-based record, Onyx is nevertheless a solid step forward for Greeks Nocternity, both in its production values and the level of immersion being transmitted through the airy, subterranean aesthetics of its compositions. You can hear a tad of En Oria's influence upon the sodden, sinking emotions dominating its track list, but really it feels like a fresh act. What is remarkable about the album is its ability to capture the listener with so little nuance and complexity, just a dark and consistent trip into the most shadowed alcoves of the writers' minds, and I admire that the band stick to their fascination for fantasy, with at least one song here devoted to George R.R. Martin's famous fantasy series A Song of Ice and Fire. Fuck, they even included chain mail links with the limited edition of the album...how cool is that?
"The Song of Hammers" is a curious choice to open the album with, being largely instrumental, but it's nonetheless monolithic in its breadth. Searing, distorted guitars hint at dissonance behind a steady, marching gait, with percussion crashes off in the background, and light synthesizers brooding in various, understated layers of atmosphere. The title track is more what you'd expect if you heard their Crucify Him EP, a blasted strongarm of raw black metal in the vein of Norse icons Burzum, Mayhem and Emperor, but still admittedly gloomy and spacious. But it's the 9 and a half minute epic "Secretya Ayra (The Key)" which gels it all together, a work of both dour atmosphere and teeming, simple black metal tremolo lines, with some killer lyrics and climactic, descending melody deep in the bridge. "Valyrian Steel (Blood of the Dragon)" is the above mentioned A Song of Ice and Fire tribute, and it moves with a callous and measured cruelty, while "The Red Dawn " has a great intro and some concrete, depressive guitars.
The outro here is performed by great German ambient/black artist Vinterriket, but its martial depth adheres pretty cleanly to Nocternity's over-arching devotion to ambient aesthetics. It's a nice touch. Ultimately, Onyx sounds rich without being excessively raw, and due to its 37 minute length, never quite wears out its welcome, so the Greeks really seemed to be coming together. The one element holding me back from appreciating the sophomore any further is simply that the guitar lines are often rambling and predictable. Their atmospheric envelope helps keep my mind adrift within the compositions, but if you were to examine them independently of their environs, they seem as if they'd be quite dull. Still, they are saved by the sum of the package, and Onyx is a decent album if you appreciate the grim, mythic, and fantastic. Or if you appreciate a thriving, dark space in which to watch your breath frost and wither.
Nocternity is without a doubt, the best black metal band from Greece. Onyx, is clearly their defining work for many reasons. The atmosphere is so thick it is like a tidal wave of icy guitars and blasting drums and excellent keyboards.
The overall sound is very dismal, ice-cold, and very keyboard heavy, but in a very good way. Nocternity use the keys in a way that they only add to the music rather than stick out like a sore thumb. The guitars are almost in the background along with the bass, adding a layer of distorted ambience that is interlaced with both mid-paced and near hyper-blasting drumming. The drummer is obviously extremely talented, and pulls off the tempo changes very easily. There are several breakdowns with multiple synth tracks creating a very dark ambient interlude before kicking into the fullout black metal assault.
The production is excellent, giving just the right amount of reverb on the drums and keyboards as well as the vocals to create the maximum atmosphere while still being able to hear all the instruments easily. The songs all have generally the same songwriting structure with long keyboards passages, switching from mid-paced to hyper-fast metal sections, with the occasional majestic/epic parts to round out the style nicely. With this formula, the songs never get dull, it only helps to create a constant flow throughout the album. This flow remind me alot of Abigor's classic Orktblut-the Retaliation album very much, although the style is quite different.
Bands that I would compare this to would be early Emperor, early Satyricon, and Limbonic Art. This album is highly recommended for any fan of atmospheric black metal, an essential release.
"Onyx" was my first helping of Greece's Nocternity and their second album to date, following up from "En Oria" which was released in the year 2000. I listened to this album not knowing what to expect or what i was going to hear. "Onyx" plays out just over 37 minutes and consists of six songs. I picked this album up mainly due to Nocternity's vocalist Whyrd, also the vocalist for German band Lunar Aurora whom i happen to love.
Nocternity produce very eerie and atmospheric music. It's mellow in places and fast in others. Vocals change from clean whispers almost, to deathly screams. I can't help but be reminded of Lunar Aurora when i listen to this album, which is certainly not a bad thing. Riffs and drums are generally fast paced, containing blastbeats in many places. Drums do break down into a slower pace and are generally quite simplistic, but are done extremely well. Nothing here is overblown or complicated, it's quite simplistic, but very good indeed. Riffs are also very melodic, which intensifies the atmosphere. Each song has a gentle, calm and eerie intro, which then breaks into a fast paced riff which hits you at 100mph. The music in itself is very heavy, which adds to the dark feel of the atmosphere. The vocals blend in well with the music and are never drowned out by any of the instruments, or drown out the instruments itself. I cannot stress enough how much this reminds me of Lunar Aurora in places, so i highly recommend it to fans of the German band as it's well worth listening to.
All in all, what we have here is a misanthropic album vomited forth from the depths of hell. Recommended for all Black Metal fans.
I knew Nocternity from their split with Nastrond and I knew what to expect. Cold, eerie and very heavy black metal but I when I got the LP in my hands it truly exceeded my expectations. The album is better than anyone can imagine, a true masterpiece, an ode, not only to black metal but to the whole metal genre.
The music interchanges between mid-paced rhythms and speedy outbursts. What truly makes this album unique though is the extremely heavy sound. The sound distortion results in a very much unique and individual album, it does not sound like any other black metal band out there. The guitars blast out incredibly freezing and melodic riffs, it is amazing how melody is built on top of the solid sound and it gives you an unreal and dreamy feeling. The drums and the blast beats add volume to the album. The vocals sound like they have just been spewed out from hell, they burn you by just listening to them and even the clean vocals (there are some narrative parts in the album) add up nicely to the dark atmosphere. There is also the occasional use of keyboards, mainly in the mid-paced parts of the music, which they fit in nicely and make the album sound even more exquisite.
Everything in this album gives a cold, melodic and uncanny sense, even the artwork (gatefold LP), the record cover and the photos which are only in black and white design. There is also a small poster as a present with the LP.
This album is a must for everyone who likes metal. Check it out and you won't regret it.