Noctum: Final Sacrifice

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Noctum: Final Sacrifice
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Noctum: Final Sacrifice
Doom Metal, Hard Rock
Metal Blade Records
October 29th, 2013
Release length: 46:49
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After issuing their debut album The Seance, as well as follow-up 2011 EP The Fiddler through High Roller Records, Sweden’s Noctum have signed with Metal Blade Records. The band may have just formed in 2009, but both releases show a strong group rooted in the early days of Doom Metal and Black Sabbath style Hard Rock. Two years have passed since The Fiddle, and the band went into Maskinrummet at Musikfabriken, Uppsala to record their follow-up album, Final Sacrifice. Not only is it meant to appease their growing fanbase, but also introduce the masses to new drummer Fredrik Jansson (Atlantic Tide, former Witchcraft). But, does this slight shift in the line-up following 2011’s induction of guitarist Daniel Johansson only solidify their efforts, or is Final Sacrifice more literal than just an album title?

With a rich audio quality that carries a slight raw hollowness to the clearly digital production, Final Sacrifice shows the bands influence from the late seventies to early eighties Rock and Doom Metal groups. “Conflagration” has a faster guitar introduction for forty seconds before the slower paced Doom Metal riffs kick in, finding solid hooks in the bridges and thick distortion to the riffs that work perfectly with the deeper tones of the bass. The clean singing shows a nice range with varied energy that seems dependant on the music, as well as some powerful background falsettos at key spots like end of the chorus.

“Liberty in Death” has plenty of great hooks during the bridges, as well as the chorus that ushers in a mixture of grand yet creepy Manowar style Heavy Metal. Even the background falsetto at the end accentuates it. The rest of the song holds up as a slightly ritualistic Doom Metal track with a subtle, lower singing approach that builds up the tension to the chorus well. “The Revisit” is an interesting cut in that its far more intimate, as well as psychedelic at first. The slower, simpler performance feels like something you might expect to hear at your local coffee shop when they have a live performance. Three minutes in, that smaller setting builds into an increasingly faster pace that continues to shift throughout, mixing some Hard Rock and Heavy Metal influences against a heavy Doom Metal backdrop. About four-and-a-half minutes in, the pace temporarily drops to a slower marching drum performance with echoed whispers of “Join… the death…” (or what it sounds like to me anyway) that make for a truly creepy experience, building up to a conclusion that wraps the latter two elements together as one.

“Resurrected in Evil” finds the band pushing an obvious influence right to the forefront. As soon as it starts, you can easily picture an early Mercyful Fate performance, but holding enough of a unique approach to keep it within Noctum‘s overall sound for the album. The darker early Hard Rock main verses shift into the slightly more melodic chorus perfectly, and the guitar solos pack the most energy of the performance, though the second is much thinner thanks to some simpler bass notes behind it. While it works, there was no real reason to leave it as barren as it ends up, especially to close such a great song. This isn’t the only time you’ll pick up on this, as many hooks during “Void of Emptiness” carry a similar sound and atmosphere as “Resurrected in Evil,” including a few falsetto wails in the background. This does find a good number of trudging Doom Metal passages and bridges throughout, which is enough to make a distinction between these two bands. “Temple of the Living Dead,” however, doesn’t keep that distinction all the time, having elements that immediately remind listeners of “Egypt” and similar Mercyful Fate cuts.

While Final Sacrifice is a bit on the accessible side, as well as isn’t that original, walking the line between inspiration and worship, the album never loses its edge or bite. Right from the start, Noctum grab the listener with infectious riffs and drumming that rarely presents a dull moment throughout the entire forty seven minute experience. If you could picture Ghost but with some more enthusiasm that shows they’re not afraid to push a little life into the music or vocals, you have the perfect idea of what this band brings to the table. While it doesn’t show Noctum ready to compete with the genre’s leaders, Final Sacrifice makes them a group that deserves to be watched closely.

01. Conflagration – 5:35
02. Liberty in Death – 4:45
03. Resurrected in Evil – 4:03
04. Deadly Connection – 3:30
05. Void of Emptness – 3:47
06. The Revisit – 7:25
07. A Burning Will – 5:27
08. Temple of the Living Dead – 5:16
09. Azoth – 7:00
Initial Pressing Score: 8.5/10

Noctum
Noctum

Digital review copy of this release provided by Metal Blade Records and Freeman Promotions.