Register Forgot login?

© 2002-2019
Encyclopaedia Metallum

Best viewed
without Internet Explorer,
in 1280 x 960 resolution
or higher.

Privacy Policy

Nocturnal majesty... Oh yes, thou art! - 100%

BlackMetal213, August 21st, 2017

After seeing The Black Dahlia Murder headline this year's Summer Slaughter Tour, I simply felt indebted to review my favorite album which they played live in its entirety this during their live set for its ten year anniversary. "Nocturnal" was the first album I heard from TBDM and it immediately made me indulge in listening to the rest of their discography at the time, which spanned from "Unhallowed" to "Deflorate". They only had four albums at the time and now are going on eight! It's crazy how time flies. Granted I've only really been into this band for about eight years, they were one of those bands to really peak my interest in extreme metal.

TBDM has historically been referred to as an At the Gates "rip-off" band due to their obviously ATG influenced melodic death metal style. While there have always been similarities, perhaps with their first two albums "Unhallowed" and "Miasma" being the most derivate of this style, they really don't come across as an ATG worship band to my ears. They have always had an unmistakable sound that mixes wonderfully tasteful melodic elements with a very dark style of death metal. There is a certain atmosphere that I really haven't heard other bands emulate. Anyway, before I digress more than I already have, I will now delve into the album's musical competence and the captivating melodic extremity that is TBDM.

The production is one of the best I have ever heard in a melodic death metal album. It's crystal clear, meaning all of the instruments are audible and you can hear everything going on, minus the bass most of the time. But that doesn't mean it's not there. We can hear it playing alongside the guitar riffs but it just chooses not to deviate from the riff patterns, and that's fine. At least this thing doesn't sound flat due to a lack of bass. The guitars are the focal point of this album, such has always been the case. These songs follow the same formulaic structures of aggressive riffing, basically mixing a few elements of thrash metal with a large injection of very catchy melodies, and some black metal tremolos and dark death metal moments. Songs like the title track definitely work this formula and there are moments where it almost sounds like blackened death metal. "What a Horrible Night to Have a Curse", taken from the band's early demo of the same name in title, begins with a fairly interesting programmed-sounding riff that explodes into a furious, ferocious beast of death. This album also saw a huge increase in guitar solos, as "Unhallowed" only featured maybe two or three, and "Miasma" still didn't have enough. Every song seems to have some sort of melodic solo that works alongside gorgeous riffs. This is almost what I like to call a "beauty within chaos" characteristic. I believe the songs featuring the best solos would have to be a three way tie between the title track, "Everything Went Black", and "Deathmask Divine".

As many know, this was the first of three albums to feature Shannon Lucas, formerly of All That Remains, on drums. He was the dude that played drums on "The Fall of Ideals". Yep, he was the guy that did the double bass on "This Calling" that everyone was freaking out over though I personally always thought was highly overrated. Here, however, he redeems himself. His drumming on this album follows similar patterns of extremely fast blast beats, thrashy drum lines, and a decent amount of double bass. Oh, there's a lot of this here, too. But it sounds so much better. The black metal influence really sneaks in through the drums along with the tremolo guitar riffs. Sure, Shannon did a decent job with All That Remains but I never really understood the hype of his work until I got into this band and heard his work here. It's amazing and each of the three albums he was featured on (the other two being "Deflorate" and "Ritual") never fail to amaze me in the percussion category.

So, vocally, Trevor Strnad is an absolute beast here. I think this album boasts his best vocal performance maybe being only slightly better than "Everblack". But really, he's never been a less than amazing vocalist. His style of vocals moves between high-pitched screams and low guttural growls seemingly effortlessly and after finally seeing him perform live, I can attest that he sounds EXACTLY the same live as he does within studio recordings. It's flawless, really. And amazing. The black metal influence, like the tremolos and blast beats, also sneaks in with these higher pitched screaming vocals and it adds another cool dynamic to the music that melodic death metal bands have been doing for awhile. Yes, this is a similar thing to what At The Gates did, but I've always thought Trevor to be a better vocalist than Tomas Lindberg. Sue me, but I like what I like.

35 minutes. This album is 35 minutes in length but every time I listen to it, it feels like it's shorter. It's that enjoyable and I've seen countless people besides myself refer to "Nocturnal" as the band's best album. This is a very easy statement to justify. I don't think that TBDM will be able to top this record simply because of its level of greatness. "Deflorate" is still amazing, "Ritual" perhaps remains on the level of "Deflorate", "Everback" came close to being as amazing as this record, and "Abysmal" was a solid album as well, but "Nocturnal" is just something else that will likely always remain the gold standard of modern U.S. melodic death metal. I am looking forward to hearing what the band has to offer on "Nightbringers" because after hearing that title track live, my curiosity has been highly aroused.