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Welcome to New Jersey - 84%

orphy, January 13th, 2021

From the depths of New Jersey comes Nokturnel, a ripping fast death metal band that has ties to many other names in the death metal underground. Namely, it features Tom Stevens, who had been involved in death metal’s formative years since 1985 with the band Savage Death (which also featured drummer Erik Young). Eight years after starting his journey of pushing the extreme, Stevens’ finally released a full length with Nokturnel in 1993, entitled “Nothing but Hatred.” Pure speed and brutality take the forefront here, but they are steered by an equally wild force of creativity.

Everything is cranked to 11 on this record, and the songs are always verging into higher speeds as they develop. Stevens’ riffs are varied and pack a punch, as he plays lightning fast power chords that jump around along the fret board, but also incorporates quite a lot of quirky ideas. Much like fellow mid-Atlantic death metallers Deceased, Nokturnel has a knack for incorporating Voivod influenced sections throughout their songs. One of the best examples of this are the dissonant chords and jagged rhythms in the track “Global Suicide.” That song also features an excellent thrash break at the end that also reminds me of Deceased, and you could make the case that fans of “Luck of the Corpse” will find a lot to like about “Nothing but Hatred.”

Unlike Deceased, Nokturnel eschews heavy metal melody for much more chaotic lead playing. Quite honestly, Tom Stevens’ guitar playing is the highlight and overall driving force of this record. Much like his riffing, his lead playing is frantic and relentless. His solos are like a more virtuoso version of Slayer, as they’re pretty chromatic, but he employs incredibly smooth execution of tapping, sweeping, and even tremolo bar abuse. For a lack of a better term, Stevens is just metal as fuck on this record, and his bandmates are equally as skilled and unhinged as he is. The rhythm section is extremely tight, performing at full speed, but still allowing room to breath and build when appropriate. The bass sometimes simplifies the riffs without any tremolo picking, giving a more solid sense of rhythm. Furthermore, there’s some start/stop sections that are performed with absolute precision among all the madness, or things like quick shots and other nuances that give these songs a little something extra.

I’ve always found the production of this record to always be a little odd, but as each track goes by, I start to warm up to its sound. I think it comes down to the fact that the vocals are just too loud, as things seem to sit really well during some of the extended instrumental passages. The bass has a subtle overdrive that adds a mean edge to it, but it still maintains low end warmth. Meanwhile, the drums are standard early 90’s death metal affair, with lots of smack on the kick drum, but it seems to have a nice balance as the snare and toms retain a good natural sound and dynamic. Many of the lead guitar sections emphasize the fact the band is a three piece, as there will be no rhythm guitar under it, but it doesn't feel empty, as the rhythm section is able retain a full sound with busy playing.

Death/thrash and NYDM fans who haven’t heard this record should do themselves a favor and give it a listen. Although it has plenty in common with their fellow New Jersey death/thrash bands like Ripping Corpse and Revenant, it doesn’t have the slamming breakdowns of the former nor the extravagant Morbid Angel moments of the latter. What it does have is Voivoid-esque fretboard wizardry, and an insatiable thirst for over the top speed. It’s a shame this record hasn’t been re-released at any point – maybe the cover is just a little too ridiculous for its own good – but as far as I’m concerned, this is up there with the other classic death metal bands mentioned in this review.

Nothing but Chaos and Disorienting Cacophony - 83%

bayern, June 22nd, 2017

Nokturnel should be mentioned alongside another very similar act, Vicious Circle, as both outfits belong to the more technical side of the death/thrash metal hybrid, and both released their debuts a bit later than the mass (Atheist, Nocturnus, Vacant Grave, Incubus, Hellwitch, Revenant, etc.) in the trend, and both shot their sophomores after the same lengthy period. Both outfits can easily come on top of the group in terms of brutality as both cling more towards the death metal side of the spectre, but in terms of musical proficiency Vicious Circle are the decidedly superior team. This doesn’t mean that our friends here are slouchers and don’t know what they’re doing... it’s just that they have chosen to present the thrash/death metal blend in a most chaotic, dishevelled, charmingly scattered manner, one that would never attract a large pool of fans, and one that would keep them inhabiting a special niche from the metal field.

So this “madness” here begins with “Human Termite”, a bashing brutalizer which will scare the non-trve immediately, and once it clears the way things become way better with the stylish leads on “No 2nd Chance” and the more moderate thrashing rhythms on “Sliding Down The Razor” which even features quite intriguing melodic embellishments. “Global Suicide” is brutal technical death metal predating the Cryptopsy “atrocities” by a few years, but this is a tad more linear and certainly more chaotic. “Skonopolator” is a short aggressor with a great psychedelic interlude ala Voivod, and “My Hell” is excellent hectic thrash/death ala Atheist’s “Piece of Time” with a couple of choppy breakdowns and a supreme bizarre technical stroke towards the end. The instrumental “Final Punishment” goes off the path with eccentric spacey accumulations and spiral-like riff-patterns; a masterpiece of busy technical/progressive metal that explores a myriad of time-signatures along the way. “Target Planet” returns to the more orthodox barrage, but the riffs remain on a higher, more complex level. “Revenge of the Corpse” slows down and serves intelligent technical guitars their jumpy stride broken once by an insane brutal insertion. “Welcome to NJ” is another high achievement in the technical/progressive sector with eclectic tunes, sudden tempo shifts, and weird riffy configurations which amazingly seldom leave the mid-paced parametres. “Poltergeist” closes this diverse opus with lightning speed decisions, a few virtuoso sections, some impetuous outlandish thrashing, and a pleiad of screamy chaotic leads.

The very shouty, nearly hysterical at times, vocals are the perfect fit to this utterly hallucinogenic aural experience which lacks order and discipline, but makes up with loads of musical histrionics that would take some time to settle in. Again, the more squeamish will run away after the few introductory chords from the opener, and will never come back although the initial chaos gets under control a bit, and the band keep producing surprises for the more tolerant all the way to the end. With closer supervision and more compact musicianship they would have fitted into the dazzling brutality movement, which started a few years later, and would have given Suffocation and Cryptopsy again a very good run for their money. The dishevelled riff applications may have been intentional, after all, as the guys may have wanted to generate as much chaos and perplexity as possible… and they had admirably succeeded on all counts. The only question that remained was whether the band would ever elaborate on those flashes of genius that peppered the album all over…

The fans had to wait for that to occur for whole eight years the guys throwing the “Anti Grunge” EP in-between to keep the memories of them, at least in those who had any in the first place, alive. “Fury Unleashed” eventually hit the stores in 2001 and deserved its “furious” title every bit of the way. In other words, the chaos from the album reviewed here is in full swing once again with thrash almost completely gone from the picture which gets under a bit of control at times, but only to stupefy the listener even more with the next slab of unfettered undecipherable brutality. Well, at least the guys kept their reputation for being one of the most unhinged purveyors of the brutal metal idea; with chaos and cacophony leading the way assuredly, there are literally no limits as to where their raging imagination could take them…

(JL) America, Fuck Yeah! - 69%

Danthrax_Nasty, November 4th, 2005

Everything about this just screams awesome too me. This is high energy 80's Speed/Thrash influenced Technical Death Metal, with tons, and tons of riffs. This is just a total riff fest, with killer solos all over the place, and a great mixture of vocal elements. Released in 1993, hailing straight from Jersey (apparently they formed in Texas, according to this site?), and brandishing an unrelenting Death/Thrash brand of Metal. Seriously, if you could accurately measure aggression, I'd imagine this ranking some where around a live GG Allin show, and an overly violent gang rape which ends in murder, and lots of mutilation.

The only real down side I see to this is that the production some what hurts the bands style (but I'm listening to a casette made/released in 1993, so that probably has more than a little to do with it). With said, I'm still quite pleased with every listen (even though I'm really not that big of a Death Metal fan myself), and this still manages to work its way into my playlist (even if not too often, but I've had it a good long while). Of the best things to find here the endless riff diversity doesnt exactly hurt, nor does the full on head banging, always blasting along, I'm so fucking hatefull, and aggressive I just gotta show it at all moments rythms, and drums, or do the Blackend, scratchy vocal stylings (with cool Death backing growls). I imagine though, some people may get bored with this, as there is a fair deal of diversity, but the overall feel never stops, and the production values, and style are basically consistant through out the album. Some songs stand out above others, but mostly blend together well. Not a very melodic album, has its highlights, but mostly its slightly generic Thrashing Technical Death, with an average beats per minute equal to a mouse' pulse.

This is a fairly mediocre release, but definitely kick ass for what it is. The lyrics aint too bad, but really arent that good... not that you can pick them out much when sung. I'd suggest picking this up if the style appeals to your taste other wise leave it for someone who can appreciate it.