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Sometimes the best albums in your collection are ones you'd never heard of prior to purchasing. Case in point, Nocturnal Breed's "Aggressor". Whilst perusing a local store, this writer found "Aggressor" for five dollars, and like many others, I was initially drawn to the album because of the cover. And as it was only five dollars, this writer decided to purchase "Aggressor", and upon listening to it can say that it is a fine piece of classic black/thrash that should be a lot more popular than it is, especially considering how it pre-dated the "retro thrash" scene by a few years.
With the album cover (which is easily one of the best of the late '90's) having a bunch of fighter planes in the background with some sort of apocalyptic warrior on the front, this writer's first thought was "This is going to sound like Sodom". As it turns out, that was a pretty accurate assessment, as Nocturnal Breed is clearly going for a Teutonic thrash sound, with Kreator seeming to be a prime influence. The Brazilian death/thrash scene seems to be a significant influence as well, especially songs like "Alcoholic Rites", which reek of the old-school Sepultura/Sarcofago sound. Motorhead and Venom are other obvious influences, more so with the drum beats and general attitude of the music than anything else. While, truth be told, "Aggressor" isn't quite as good as the best efforts from the aforementioned bands (but is easily a whole lot better than anything Sepultura did post-"Arise"), it's still a great album that is a worthy addition to any extreme metal fan's collection.
"Maggot Master" is easily the best song on the album, with its catchy main riff with a drum beat that should inspire fits of spontaneous headbanging . Younger listeners could compare the track to a rawer version of Skeletonwitch, and the guitar solo is unusually, for lack of a better word, beautiful, which isn't something you usually see in the heavier genres of metal. The adrenaline rush that this song provides is worth the price of purchase alone, but the rest of the album is almost as good as "Maggot Master". "Aggressor" also contains a Death cover, "Evil Dead" (one of Death's best songs), although this is just the icing on the cake whenever one considers how great the rest of the album is. Other standouts on the album include "Revelation 666", "Metal Storm Rebels", and the aforementioned "Alcoholic Rites", which could easily have been B-sides to "Bestial Devastation" (albeit with slightly better production). The best word one could use to describe these songs is "savage", because they take no prisoners with their whirlwind of riffs.
Vocally, this album is very reminiscent of "Pleasure to Kill"-era Kreator, as previously mentioned, although there is a tinge of black metal in the shrieks as well. The screams inspire thoughts of, alternately, a victim of a senseless war, or a vengeful demon hell-bent on causing as much havoc as he can. Obviously, this perfectly fits the nature of the music, and the vocalist is especially effective on the obligatory song named after the band, "Nocturnal Breed", which features some of the album's best vocals in the chorus, sounding like the vocalist's throat is literally shredding from the inside as he screams. The musicians are just as good, providing filthy riff after filthy riff, and while the guitars are excellent, the bass is quite difficult to hear. In fact, the album's production is quite harsh, with very little low frequencies in the mix. However, when one considers this is an old-school thrash metal album made by a bunch of Norwegian black metal musicians, this makes perfect sense and shouldn't be counted as a flaw against the album.
Nocturnal Breed's "Aggressor" is highly recommended for fans of old-school thrash or fans of black/thrash. Even fans of newer thrash bands like Skeletonwitch or Toxic Holocaust should take delight in the brutal thrash that awaits them on this album. The album is a little difficult to find, but if you peruse various record stores, you'll probably find it. Those unwilling to do a little legwork to find some quality metal can just order it off Amazon instead. Whatever your method to acquire "Aggressor" is, it will certainly be worth it the money.
This album was originally written for the San Antonio Heavy Metal Examiner and can be found at the original site here: http://www.examiner.com/x-44499-San-Antonio-Heavy-Metal-Examiner~y2010m6d3-Classic-Review--Nocturnal-Breed-Aggressor
Nocturnal Breed is another in the long line of various Scandanavian Black Metallers joining up to form a retro Thrash band recalling the glory days of Sodom, Destruction, Kreator, etc. Unlike a lot of those bands however, I actually enjoy Nocturnal Breed's music, and Aggressor is the ultimate "beer and retro metal" band in my humble opinion. The music on Aggressor has Thrash written all over it, right down to the catchy as hell guitar riffs, while the vocals are pure Black Metal. I have to admit, hearing that this band featured members of Dimmu Borgir threw me off a bit, and almost caused me not to check this one out. However, the kid in me couldn't resist the killer cover art, and I'm more then happy that that side of me won out. This is the type of album that you put on, grab a case of your favorite malt liquor, slip on the denim jacket and bullet belt, and just Thrash your damn head to pieces. I must make special mention of the inclusion of keyboards on this album. Let me just say this, if you are not totally drawn into the opening track, "Rape The Angels," by the keyboards, and if it isn't rolling around your head for days, you just aren't paying attention. While I don't have them in front of me, the lyrics are as cheesy as they come, another touch of the classic Thrash era. Take for example this passage from the chorus of the opening track, "Rape The Angels,"
"Can you feel it?
I rape the angels
I rip their heads off
Destruction of all
I rape the angels
I rape you all
I rape the angels
The reaper of souls"
That's about all I can dechiper, but you get the general idea. All in all, if you're one that lives and breathes on bands from the heyday of the German Thrash scene, then I suggest you obtain a copy of Aggressor as soon as possible. And it wouldn't hurt to get yourself a keg and a neckbrace either ;)
While I believe the original digipak version of this album was printed in a limited number of copies, the jewel case version is still available through various distros, including Century Media.