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Welcome to Your Death - 85%

Neheroth, February 16th, 2019
Written based on this version: Unknown year, Digital, Independent (Bandcamp)

Nocturnal has always been a band that first springs to mind when thinking of black thrash and came into entity long before the genre had a resurgence in the last decade, so its no surprise they hold a high place in the pantheon. Before Ketzer, Cruel Force, Witching Hour and Hellish Crossfire, Nocturnal had a good head start on their German contemporaries and even now stand tall amongst many amazing acts from their homeland. Headed by riff master, Avenger the band has released a sparse, but high quality, amount of releases since the band's inception in 2000, but this is no surprise considering the huge host of bands the man is involved with.

The release opens with the buzzing roar of chainsaws letting you know that no limbs will be spared in this black thrash holocaust. Structurally tracks "Chainsaw Carnage" and "Thrash Attack" follow the typical three-minute blazer mark one would expect with time to breathe for slower, mid-paced sections such as the opening for "Thrash Attack". "Hellraiser and "Tormentor" are faster, shorter numbers that leave no space for nuance and are only concerned with smashing the listener dead before fleeing the crime as rapidly as it arrived, with the latter's chorus being exceptionally savage. "Welcome to Your Death" is the true stand out track of the EP and still one of Nocturnal's greatest songs. A longer, slower, somber number than it's companions, the track allows Avenger to lay down some truly evil riffs in a broader structure and the same can be said for the drum sections.

The main thrill of Nocturnal is Avenger's stupendous mastery of black/speed/thrash riffs. Cold, swaggering black metal melodies combined with chunky palm muted thrash shreds influenced by Kreator, Destruction, Hellhammer, and Bathory. Sure the riff's are emulated from the previously mentioned bands, as with many in the modern retro black/speed/thrash vein are, but Avenger's take on that tried and true style feel effortless and innate as if he were drawing from the same sadistically spectral forces the 80's masters were.

That's not to say the rest of the band aren't adding anything to the mix, Hellbastard's handling of both the bass and drum sections are solid with the bass following the guitar lines as one would expect whereas the drum sections are a decently savage backdrop to Avenger's riffs, crashing cymbals and a fervent pace with the snare work well, yet I don't feel as if Hellbastard does anything interesting within that set up and I can't think of a single snare pattern that really sticks in the mind. Metallic Mayhem is a different matter entirely and the rough, broken shrieks bellowed forth from the man fit the rest of the music perfectly, especially on the chorus for "Tormentor" where they excel in tearing through your eardrums like a baseball bat wreathed in barbed wire.

Thrash with the Devil was the first proper EP released by the band and even from this early stage, Nocturnal showed they were a black thrash force that was not to be trifled with. They would later go on to develop their sound further with their first crushing album Arrival of the Carnivore and their greatest work Violent Revenge, where Hellbastard especially got his act together and vastly improved on his drum work. Thrash with the Devil is an excellent place for someone to start with Nocturnal, it may be rougher and cruder than the later releases, but even now 18 years later, it shows that Nocturnal has a special place amongst its contemporaries.