Noctis Imperium: Nihil

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Noctis Imperium: Nihil
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Noctis Imperium: Nihil
Black Metal, Death Metal
Abyss Records
August 17th, 2010
Release length: 29:56
Myspace
Noctis Imperium is a Black/Death Metal band that hails from Venezuela, a country that not many metal acts are known for residing in. While there aren’t many bands from that part of the world, especially signed acts that would be noted throughout the globe, Noctis Imperium bring their album Nihil for all to enjoy, as well as be one of the more modern acts to kick the door open to the world of the existence of bands from this region. Of course, this isn’t the band’s first EP release, as there are two others that predate this 2010 release entitled Nihil, but this is the release that will seem to grasp more attention from the community due to signing with Abyss Records for it’s release.

But, for a release that will hit a wider audience, it doesn’t really hit it’s mark of being an all that impressive effort. The EP consists of five new studio tracks, as well as a sixth that is an introduction instrumental, and two bonus live recordings of their previous tracks “Through Fire and Cosmos”, as well as “Maze of Torment”. Yes, this is all standard, and the live tracks make a nice addition, but the problem is that this release just isn’t all that great. The introduction instrumental track, “Ra-hoor-khuit” is nothing too special, and doesn’t really set the mood in any way, actually only aggrivating the nerves of the listener due to the higher pitched ambience that has been placed on it, giving it an almost cosmic feel to it, which doesn’t quite work with the overall stylish feel and production value of the album.

The main gripe of this recording is how close it sounds to a Dimmu Borgir release at times. The title track, “Noctis Imperium”, sounds like a song torn straight from the pages of that band, but without the symphonic elements, and focusing solely on a harsh, rhaspy vocal style that is done in an effort to sound commanding, which works well for the approach utilized. I probably doesn’t gelp that this release features Nicholas Howard Berker, a man who played in bands like and Dimmu Borgir in the past. So, for originality, there really isn’t much stemming here, and without any kind of Symphonic or Orchestral sound, the rather pollished and stylish production quality leaves a little more to be desired. It also doesn’t help things that the end of “Descensus ad Inferos” sounds like something ripped directly from Lamb of God with the track “Walk With Me In Hell”.

The music on this release is good for what it is, but sadly there’s just not a lot on here that’s all that impressive. “Bring Me Sacrifice” makes for a good track on this release, being a blisteringly fast song through much of the song, up to the point where things slow down and take on a more melodic, yet melancholic approach. The solos have a more neo-classical shred sound to them, which is becoming popular in Death Metal today moreso due to the use of such epic-sounding solos on the television show Metalocalypse, but they just simply aren’t that great and often sound as if the guitarist had made a mistake or hurt himself playing it, leading to him to pause for a moment, even though they are already pretty basic.

While these make some major issues for the recording, the band’s ability to weave together the Black and Death Metal styles on the recording is top notch. If it weren’t for the band typically changing the pace of the song without much of a transition, then this release would have some very fluid tracks. “Maze of Torment” is the perfect example, as this exemplifies all the positive aspects of the band. The track nicely blends both Black and Death Metal together throughout the track, has some changes that have a nice transition, except for the one right after the solo which comes off more as a forced breakdown then anything that just picks up speed out of nowhere. The guitar solos on this track are superb, however, and nicely fit the atmosphere of the track, the first being more of the Shredding approach like on previous songs, as well as a solo near the end that is just the kind of solo you would expect to hear from an 80’s Thrash act.

The two live tracks at the end of this recording are nice companion pieces as well. The songs come off the band’s previous two EPs, and have a fantastic recording quality that clearly comes from the soundboard, but isn’t too studio-sounding and retains the more raw sound of a live performance. These tracks actually sound better then some of the material on Nihil, and nicely further themselves from the strong Dimmu Borgir sound of this recording. The double bass kicks are intense, and the variety in the drumming really stands out on these two songs, especially the track “Through Fire and Cosmos”, but the other elements sound great on here as well, as the guitars hold their own with strong performances with stand out chords that nicely traverse slower paced held notes with fantastic trasitions to and from, mixing perfectly with the faster paced material of the music. The crowd’s reaction to the song is another thing to take note of, as the crowds just often go crazy throughout the recordings for the band, showing just how much of an impact Noctis Imperium have during this live performance.

While Nihil is not one of the band’s strongest offerings, it’s still something to be kind of excited over. The material presented here is still strong, though it follows more of an already established pattern laid out by other bands, as well as finds genre confusion in the Lamb of God breakdown that adorns “Descensus ad Inferos”. Musically, the album presents some solid metal that nicely jumps between both Death Metal and Black Metal, but shows the band lacking in transitions more then anything, and that’s what really kills the music since some tracks build a nice intensity with fast music, and then just suddenly switch to a slower pace that feels forced. But, if this is something to come out of the Venezualian Metal scene, and makes for a good stand out release from that section of the world.

01. Ra-hoor-khuit – 1:05
02. Descensus ad Inferos – 4:28
03. Bring Me Sacrifice – 2:40
04. Noctis Imperium – 2:46
05. Maze of Torment – 4:43
06. Unus in Nihil – 4:20
07. Through Fire and Cosmos (Live) – 5:03
08. Maze of Torment (Live) – 4:51
Overall Score: 5.5/10


Digital review copy of this release provided by Abyss Records via Clawhammer PR.