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Ever since the bestial black/death genre had its sudden, and greatly successful, reemergence, there has been an array of different bands from all over the world, all sticking to the general aesthetics put in place by the genre’s forefathers - Blasphemy, Abhorer, Beherit, Sarcofago, Archgoat, etc. Like all forms of music, some bands are far superior to their other contemporaries, and this more-than-promising demo is a clear indicator that Nocturnal Blood are, and probably will remain, one of these bands who plainly stick out amongst the rest. Although this demo has enough of the defining characteristics to deem this black/death metal, it certainly has enough of its own characteristics to set it apart from a lot of other black/death metal bands.
While a lot of these black/death bands draw lots of influence from the savage and relentless nature of bands such as Bestial Warlust and Blasphemy, Nocturnal Blood seem to draw a lot elements from the eeriness and ethereality on Beherit’s Drawing Down the Moon, Demoncy’s Joined In Darkness and Von’s Satanic Blood. One big element that is carried throughout both bands though is the Hellhammer influence, which is ALWAYS a good thing, no matter what kind of metal it is. A lot of the demo is fairly mid-paced and very simplistic, but these are in no way undermining factors, as they actually help a lot with the ritual-like atmosphere.
In terms of production, this demo is almost perfect. The one and only flaw is that the drums are a bit too far in the background, which is a real shame because this Nocturnal Ghoul fellow really knows his way around a drum set better then some of the other black/death drummers. When he plays fast, he does it with pummeling force and precision, and when he plays slow, he takes that precision and applies it to playing ploddingly and heavily. He does not try anything fancy as it is not necessary here, but he also does not need to in order to make his talent more than apparent. The heavy reverb added to the drums also adds a dark and cavernous aura to them, which is yet another reason why I wish they could have just been a tad louder.
The guitars are a double tracked thick wall of down-tuned sludge, which, like the drums, have been soaked in reverb and let out to dry a little bit, just enough to prevent it from being overbearing. The sluggish, more lethargic riffs remind me of Archgoat’s slower sections – simple, effective, and damn heavy. These work as a fluent contrast to the fast, tremolo-picked riffs that are interspersed throughout the demo. The bass follows the guitars playing mostly root notes and with a gritty, chunky tone, and has been soaked in the appropriate amount of reverb to match the other instruments.
One of the greatest highlights of the demo is without a doubt the putrid and nauseatingly vile vocal work of Nocturnal Blood’s one and only member, Nocturnal Ghoul. He mostly sticks to a demonic growl, which in that sense is similar to his vocal work in his former band, Nuclear Desecration (who sadly broke up a couple months ago, but this demo is better anyway). But that is really the only similarity between the two styles. On here, he growls in more of an eerie, chilling manner, as opposed to his more relentless and bestial delivery in Nuclear Desecration. The end result of this change is far more suiting for this sound, and he pulls it off perfectly.
Nocturnal Ghoul has mastered this style of black/death metal and has really made it his own. Personally, I like this demo more then his work with Nuclear Desecration, which is saying A LOT considering how great Desecrated Temple of Impurity was. The way he makes all these elements intertwine with one another creates an atmosphere like no other, and I eagerly wait for what lies ahead for Nocturnal Blood.
Fuck yes! This is the spirit! Calling your demo True Spirit Of Old had better be able to back up it's promise and this sure as hell does.
The spirit it's referring to appears to be that of the original bestial black/death metal bands like Beherit, Abhorer and, to a certain extent, Blasphemy (but without the raging war feel). There are elements of Von's repetition and Goat Vulva's primitive darkness but these days the band I find the easiest comparison with is Sadomator - themselves coming under the umbrella of a more recent wave of bestial black/death metal bands.
Comparisons are easy to come by but not always accurate. Nocturnal Blood don't sound like all the aforementioned bands all of the time but have a take on black/death metal that will appeal wholly to fans of those more established bands.
The overall feel of True Spirit Of Old is one of total darkness, save for a few candles no doubt, the production sounding crypt-like and cavernous. The guitar has that deep buzzing tone that would surround you in a large dark room if played loud (and it should be) and the vocals a deep ritual growl that echo and bounce off the walls of the cave.
Almost all of the song titles have perverted sexual connotations but in that kind of dark ritual context - this is not porn-gore. It's the soundtrack to a black mass - black hoods, candles, a foreboding atmosphere of doom that should accompany the death of a virgin and the invocation of spirits so ancient their presence would turn most to stone.
Fantasy depiction's of my ideal listening environment aside this is black/death metal exactly as I want it - the dark feel of Beherit and the sleaze of Goat Vulva or Sadomator played in a primitive style that may not hold much for fans of the usual Nordic BM fare but will drive the bestial headbangers crazy.
Seriously, a sick demo from a band that I have no doubt will be a future cult for those who can't get enough dark, obscure, oppressive atmosphere and perversion in their black/death. I await future releases with baited breath.