Nocturnal Blood: Devastated Graves – The Morbid Celebration

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Nocturnal Blood: Devastated Graves – The Morbid Celebration
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Nocturnal Blood: Devastated Graves - The Morbid Celebration
Black Metal, Death Metal
Hell’s Headbangers Records
October 26th, 2010
Release length: 26:18
Website
Nocturnal Blood is a one man Black/Death Metal act out of California. Since forming in 2008, there’s been consistant releases including two EPs, a Split release, and a traditional demo. Hot off the heels of the band’s Imperial Impurity split release with Sanguis Imperem, which three members of this band handle live duties for Nocturnal Blood, comes the first full-length release, bridging the time span of this release and the Split to roughly six months apart, bringing seven new songs into the act’s quickly growing library. However, given the time between releases, and how fast material is being churned out, the question is simply whether or not the material presented here, on Devastated Graves – The Morbid Celebration, is actually any good.

The short answer is yes, but to an extent. Devastated Graves – The Morbid Celebration is a hard hitting album that nicely blends Black Metal with some slam Death Metal, which leads to some very heavy tracks. The album’s production is rather raw, and it works well for the release to create a sort of isolated atmosphere that leaves you feeling like you are not alone in a paranoid sense, which is the best way to describe it. The paranoia aspect of this mostly stems from how the vocals are handled, as there is a commanding gutteral performance brought in that just takes charge of the entire album, but really abuses the echo effect, making them sound as if they are coming from far away, then right in front of you, barking right at your face, then in the background again. It leads for some interesting moments to the material, but for the most part it simply comes off as deep gutteral noise that’s not truly coherent. There are random moments where you do understand what is being said. Of course, this doesn’t really hurt the album, but it does wind up causing some repetition as sometimes it does sound like just noise thanks to the heavy echoing, and doesn’t even come off any other way. Unfortunately, this happens through many tracks on the album, but it’s mostly apparent during “Impure Devotion”.

However, the echo effect is not just confined to the vocals. There is a slight echo to the guitars, which is nice, but it makes it’s second biggest impact outside the vocals during the guitar solos. The guitar solos on this release are very short, but wind up fitting the album in the long run thanks to how they are done, as the solos themselves match the eerie desolate vibe of the music, but the echo effect utilized just adds to it with a rather haunting aura. The only problem, though, is that these are honestly the only truly stand out aspects of the release. This isn’t to say Devastated Graves – The Morbid Celebration is not a good album. All these factors work nicely together, but some of the material just starts to sound repetitive after a while. “Devastated Graves” and “Death Calls” don’t offer much variety in the music, at least in the line of the drumming. THe same can be said for “Chaos Blood” after a while which even features a low whispering style that is utilized in another song prior to it in pretty much the same manner. This track, however, does stand out for it’s extended slam-induced breakdown that fits with the general heaviness of the song. Outside that, there’s also the much slower “Ritual Lust” which does seem to conflict with the music presented on the album thanks to the riffs and drums utilized, but in the long run makes for a fantastic track that inevitably does pick up and, once again, resorts to the same whisper vocal style that was used in “Chaos Blood” in the exact same manner.

For what it is, Devastated Graves – The Morbid Celebration is a good effort, but ultimately seems like a rushed product. There is some repetition, the raw quality has it’s advantages, and in the case of the vocals it’s disatvantages, and there are moments that simply feel recycled like the whispering vocals that are performed the exact same way each time. However, there is no denying that much of the album is still really heavy and does it’s job well. With a desolate, paranoid kind of atmosphere going for it, there’s no way that fans of either style would walk away from this release after just one listen, especially since, chances are good, it will only begin to grow on you as you go through the release for one reason or another. Nocturnal Blood may have rushed this one a little bit, or so it feels after a couple spins, but there’s enough to appreciate Devastated Graves – The Morbid Celebration for what it is, and enough to have you come back for a good amount of repeat spins.

01. Devastated Grave – The Morbid Celebration – 3:36
02. Death Calls – 4:10
03. Impure Devotion – 3:12
04. Ghouls Wrath – 3:42
05. Chaos Blood – 3:17
06. Ritual Lust – 3:42
07. Triumph of Impurity – 4:39
Overall Score: 5.5/10

Digital review copy of this release provided by Hell’s Headbangers Records.