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After Christ - 95%

Hames_Jetfield, July 21st, 2021

The theory that Louis Panzer, Mike Davis and Sean McNenney reactivated Nocturnus in 1999 only to prevent Mike Browning from playing and releasing albums under this name was already in the "Ethereal Tomb" review, but about "Retronomicon" it's time for a more detailed description of how the other side of the conflict coped. Well..."coped" is the last thing that can be said in the context of After Death's "career". After the unsuccessful attempt to revive Nocturnus with the note AD, Mike decided to let go of the struggles with the name and decided to create a new band - After Death. Unfortunately, in the following years of his band's activity, only smaller releases (such as demos) were created, and the interest in the group was - to put it mildly - poor. It's a pity, because the material collected in the form of the "Retronomicon" compilation deserves attention and in this form it can even be treated as the lost Nocturnus album.

"Retronomicon" is a collection of everything that Browning and the rest of the band managed to create in the years 2000-2006, with a small exception, i.e. a remake of the song "Nocturnus", which comes from the 1987 demo of the known band. Generally, a lot of it was collected, in the amount of fourteen songs, which is over an hour! And it should also be noted that "Retronomicon" is a much better and more interesting release than "Ethereal...", not being a copy from "The Key" and "Thresholds", and at the same time sensibly fancy and equally thrilling as the above-mentioned classics. What's more, even a poorly polished sound does not disturb this music.

The whole was prepared in the reverse form (i.e. from the last demo) and, interestingly, it does not disturb the overall consistency of this material. Cosmic death metal performed by After Death is definitely more primal (sometimes referring to Morbid Angel from times before the debut), but quite extensive, mysterious and reaching less friendly structures - 12-minute "Consumed by Fire/Sulfur, Mercury And Salt" an example. Next, which is very important, it concerns the vocals. There was a place for the characteristic "barking" vocals, but also for grunts, reverberations, choirs and - most importantly - female vocals (by Lisa Lomabrdo) giving a ritual atmosphere - so for elements that were not so characteristic to the Nocturnus style. The effect is awesome, and such "Temple Of Cthulhu", "0=2", "Astral Staircase" or "The Calling/Lords Of The Black Path" show a completely new look at the Nocturnus style.

So you can see that "Retronomicon" is definitely something worth to listen to. The music from this release beats "Ethereal...", and at the same time surprises and knocks down with its unique atmosphere. Luck was missing only from the promotion side.

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