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Nocturnal Depression, masters of the depressive-suicidal side of black metal here release a tribute to the four seasons of the year, with a depressive twist. Whilst DSBM is a genre often mocked or discarded by other black metal bands as not 'trve' or fake, Nocturnal Depression throughout their careers have managed to overcome this and release many great albums, each a separate item of depression and melancholy. Four Seasons is split into four sections, each one representing Nocturnal Depressions outlook on that particular season, therefore I shall review each section separately.
Fjaer is the first season, the song is slow, in no hurry to go anywhere, it enters with a slow tremolo riff that is truly emotional, sad, yet at the same time, thought provoking. This riff continues for a couple of minutes before the vocals join, and continues throughout the rest of the song. When the vocals kick in, whilst they aren't anything special for the genre, in terms of this song, they are perfect, capturing the melancholy and atmosphere that the song aims to create perfectly. Whilst there is little variation throughout the song in terms of melody or riff, it doesn't matter because what this song aims to do is to pull you into a trance, and ensnare you there for their for its entirety.
Enter Sommer enters with a repeating chord and simple drum beat, the vocalist screams every once in a while. This continues for a while, after a while a simple melody enters over the top. The vocals then start truly, echoing slightly, they add a depth to the song, this song is not on par with the previous, lacking the same emotional element seen in Spring. This song features a change half way through to a clean arpeggio structure which is joined after a while by a chugging electric guitar and the vocals, this half in my opinion is greater than the first half, its more evocative and melancholic, which is what you hope to get from a Nocturnal Depression song. This continues till the end of the song. Whilst this is still a good song, its outdone by the ones surrounding it.
Host (Autumn) begins with a very slow clean arpeggio guitar, very melancholic a slow counter melody joins after a couple of minutes, dragging you deep into its embrace, drums join, slowly building up levels, all the while creating the deep sorrowful atmosphere that this band is known for. Whispered vocals join, barely audible amongst the rest of the band. This then explodes into a fully fledged, though the arpeggio guitar is still present, its joined by a chugging electric guitar, and screamed vocals. The song really comes alive at this point, all the while never breaking the melancholic atmosphere it strove to build over the first few minutes. The song changes to lose the electric guitar for a while, just the arpeggio and drums with the vocals mourning over the top. This continues till the song ends. Host is much better than the previous track, creating a much great atmosphere that climbs throughout.
Vinter explodes on you like a blizzard of fast guitar riffs and heavy blast beats, this is by far the fastest song on the album, which is surprising given that its supposed to represent winter, unless the band were trying to capture a blizzard. the atmosphere present on the other songs is present here, but more in the theme of isolation than simple melancholy, the vocals are more forward here than on other songs where they are more distant sounding. Halfway through the song it changes, pulling back to become a more mid-paced song like the others, but losing none of its intensity. At this point the vocal line becomes more depressive than ever, truly sounding despairing. Along with Fjaer this is the best season on the release, just for atmosphere and the emotional response the listener experiences. The song continues at this pace for the remainder of the track, varying only slightly as it does, before reaching its climax at the end.
And so ends the year, Nocturnal Depression have released here a wonderful album, each song is a small wonder, each an ode to the melancholy and sadness. Whilst falling slightly in the middle, it nonetheless carries itself throughout, truly capturing an emotional intensity that others in the DSBM all try and come short in. Any fan of black metal, even if not a DSBM one, should check this out.
Originally posted here: http://www.sputnikmusic.com/review/56177/Nocturnal-Depression-Four-Seasons-to-a-Depression/
Here we have a concept album released by the France-based Nocturnal Depression, focusing on the four seasons. Aptly enough, the album is broken into 4 songs, each for the respective season, and all songs are approximately 10 minutes in length. The basic gist of the music is typical slow to mid-range depressive black metal with quite repetitive, yet melodic riffs. The drumming is simplistic, and the vocals are nice and melancholic.
Spring kicks in with a very nice melancholic riff, and typical melancholic vocals for a dsbm band, and chugs along for about 11 minutes. There is no variation whatsoever, and the riff is completely worn out. This is a very threadbare song, as nothing really stands out here. I mean, it's a nice song, I don't really get sick of it, but I don't really "feel" Spring personified in the song. Everything is very bland, there are no bridges, no speed changes, no drum beat changes, nothing. Just the same exact song on repeat. Unfortunately, there are no lyrics, because that may have saved this song. I am not impressed thus far. 5/10
Summer again is another track that leaves something to be desired. Repetitive in a good way, yet lacking in feeling and lacking in a direction towards expression of the season at hand. Unlike Drudkh, who in my opinion is the best band to date performing nature-themed music, Nocturnal Depression is missing something in their product. I am very sad about this because this band is quite good. There isn't really the feeling in the vocals like in the band Shining, or perhaps Brocken Moon, the music is not very memorable and unimpressive, and it lacks the atmosphere and feeling of a Drudkh, or Hate Forest type band. This is a middle of the road song, and I must give it 6/10
Autumn begins with a very pretty, light and ambient type guitar strum, creating a nice atmosphere. After a couple minutes of one single guitar playing this melody, another complimentary guitar comes in and fills the gaps. After a couple measures, there are drums introduced, and before anything really happens, the song is already almost halfway over. Luckily, the song picks up, the clean-ish fingerpicked riff is played in the background with power chord distortion in the foreground. The beat has picked up to about mid-pace, and the vocals begin. This song actually did a nice job of creating some atmosphere that does not get boring right away. Again, I did not get the sense of "autumn" in the song, but it was still a nice track. 7/10
Winter just kicks your ass right in with a fast, very fast and surprisingly brutal riff! Well damn, I wasn't expecting this. I am writing the review as I listen, because I wanted to get the emotions wrought by the music as they happen. As the reader may be able to tell, this is a very surprised listener right now. Blast beats, a harsh riff and vocals, a very maismic atmosphere created, and not something that I would exactly pin on winter, per se. Maybe I am totally out in left field with a hockey stick, but it seems they have mis-named their songs, because Winter sounds like Summer, Autumn sounds like Winter, and Spring...well Spring really doesn't fit anywhere. I really wish that I could understand the lyrics, because there has to be something behind the reason they chose such a fast-paced track for a season that is dead and tranquil (at least in my opinion). Perhaps they were trying to capture a blizzard or something. Either way, about halfway through the song, everything hits the brakes, and enters a nice mid-pace such as in Spring, and the atmosphere created is well layered, and is quite thick. The song very, very slowly grinds to a halt and finishes the way I expected it to sound throughout. A nice song, despite the title of the track being a misnomer regarding how the song feels to me. 8.5/10
Overall, the album is good, but it misses the mark in the presentation. I discussed my main qualms with the album in the summer track, mainly because I was getting irritated about how mindless, and mundane things began. I became much more interested when the autumn and winter tracks were playing, because they at least caught my attention. This is definitely not a band that should be doing nature themes, even depressive aspects of nature. Just stick to melancholy and suicidal thoughts.
'Four Seasons to a Depression' signals a return to the good old ways of black metal. No matter what form of black metal it is, it has to be an honest portrayal of life and death by using a repetitive semblance of noise that is willing to challenge any aspect of both life and death that comes under the negativity tag. The attitudes of popular music and the culture of popular music is completely removed from history. Nocturnal Depression's brief career within the depressive black metal genre takes another step towards greatness. The crown is now descending upon them and their quest to become one of the best bands in the history of the genre is nearing.
'Four Seasons to a Depression' is a depiction of the four seasons in a year through the eyes of Nocturnal Depression. I see it as how they see each season as a bringer of something evil. Each season of the year has the ability to invoke emotion from humans, as do Nocturnal Depression. In a sense, they are nature herself, but personified. They move in and out of each season with repetitive riffs of glorious failure. Sweeping through each season like a breeze of wind over it's audience. Moving subtly in and out with ease, letting no object stand in it's path. Riffs that are able to consume you. In through your mouth and down to your heart. Taking over what you currently are and transforming you into another slave to Nocturnal Depression's music.
Monotonous percussion serves well to expand what the guitars are laying down for us. They give a harsher feel to the repetitiveness of 'Four Seasons to a Depression'. The steadily build throughout, creating an abundance of feeling. From melancholy to the sheer delight of death. As death is seen as the only way out of this cyclical process of depression and despair. Nocturnal Depression aren't afraid to explore the realms of negative emotions. They, in actual fact, boil negative emotions to the surface. Causing them to bubble over and burn what lays in it's path. The ambience the pedals of the guitars cause, gives a feeling of isolation. A hollow sound is produced to give a sense of a lack of any beings around you. You're surrounded by an overwhelming feeling of loneliness. Nocturnal Depression are masters at providing emotive music through the use of electric acoustics which are slowly developed over a long period of time.
'Four Seasons to a Depression' isn't in a rush. It gives itself space and time to manoeuvre. Time to develop it's themes precisely and without leaving the audience with a feeling of overpowering inadequacy. Largely, 'Four Seasons to a Depression' is repetitive. You will have to bear with it as it slowly creates it's desired sound. Ambient sections are used throughout the demo very well. They give the audience a break from the repetitive driving nature the distorted guitars create and the rasping screams of the vocals. At times, the vocals can alter to spoken word, but this isn't frequently used. Nocturnal Depression's music is fitting. Slow rhythms add up to spoken word and acoustic parts. faster tremolo picked sections add up to a rasping style of vocals. Each segment is well thought out and that can be put down to good songwriting. 'Four Seasons to a Depression' is a very worthy demo of it's genre. It does the depressive black metal industry proud.