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Nocturnal Graves – demos 2004
…namely the first and the second tapes by this Melbourne collective “Profanation of Innocence” and “Deathstorm”. Presented here are nasty, raw “rehearsal dungeon” sessions, 3 songs apiece that introduced NG to us sinners in the year 2004. Of the many traditional black/thrash bands coming out of Melbourne, I enjoy this one the most. It’s a matter of taste, for sure as the others come up with their moments of glory and by all means check them out, but here is real power and darkness that strikes at the heart of what this style of music represents for me. Nefarious, beer-powered headbanging energy! One very pleasing aspect of Nocturnal Graves is the precise and creative drumming patterns with a particularly creative use of tempo change. The band is propelled relentlessly by unholy pounding, that lurches in and out of sync whilst galloping through dark musical realms, creating a sense of disjointed, non-linear chaos that characterised old thrash so well. The guitar riffs are once again not complicated but with a few speedy hammer-ons and licks embellishing the racing power-chord progressions that alternate between heavy palm-muted and whirlwind tremolo sections.
“Profanation of Innocence” has a particularly pleasing underground ring to it, with ripping, fuzzy guitars and disorientatingly disjointed tempo sections. An onslaught of evil howling riffs bearing down, drowning the vocal rasp somewhere in the mix. The songs are a little more varied with slower, malevolent sections emerging here and there. In this sense the second demo “Deathstorm” is better as it has a superior overall sound, but I like the sound and the songs on the first one better. Either way, both tapes + a re-recording of one of the songs were made available on one tape for your pleasure and are also downloadable from NG’s site. Go there and indulge yourself, if you haven’t done so yet. Hail Satan!
Originally published in Procession of Black Doom zine #2
I'm glad to review this piece as it manages to gather in the same release two demos that are really similar in sound and both short in length. Both demos were released in 2004 and featured 3 tracks each, making the whole 6 tracks about 25 minutes long.
Although this is labeled here as Death Metal, I would describe NOCTURNAL GRAVES more like Thrash/Death, raw and old-school like it came from some rehearsal tape buried back in the 80's. One can feel the "blackish" vibe in their sound like SEPULTURA in their early years.
The vocals are that kind of harsh almost-whisper somewhat similar to NOCTURNAL and TOXIC HOLOCAUST nowadays but with a slight old death metal edge. The guitar sound is very dry and has that "bathroom" kind of distortion with no care whatsoever for extra gain or compression. Old school! As to the drums, the sound is rather muffled, especially on the fist 3 tracks (“Profanation of Innocence” demo) but still pounding enough to be perceptible and effective.
From the fist track to the last, one can hear some raw death metal and thrash metal riffs in continuous succession. Fast drumming most of the time but not with monotony as mid-tempo and blast-beats also play an important role in most of the tracks. The last 3 tracks ("Deathstorm" demo) include some small guitar solos now and then that are somewhat reminiscent of the same kind of solos used in BESTIAL WARLUST.
There are really no weak songs on the album ... and no stand-out tracks too. Both demos have rehearsal quality (though all instruments are audible) so there is nothing much to talk about regarding production values... in fact, there is absolutely nothing innovative about NOCTURNAL GRAVES. I estimate all the riffs they use where already being played back in 1986!
In sum: For all into the whole Aussie "War Metal" phenomena like DESTROYER 666, GOSPEL OF THE HORNS, DESTRUKTOR, DENOUNCEMENT PYRE, RAZOR OF OCCAM... and for all old-school extreme metalheads that couldn't care less about production. Not the best band in the genre but gets the job done and is violently enjoyable!