Noctum – Final Sacrifice

Metal Blade Records– 29 October 2013

Review by Suzi H

I always get very excited when I get to listen to an album before it’s released. I get even more excited when that album is a concept album, and turns out to be deliciously dark and heavy in a 70’s Black Sabbath sort of way. Add in the fact that the band are Swedish, and I’m a happy little camper.  Noctum‘s second full length album Final Sacrifice is ticking all of those boxes.

So, first things first the potted history of Noctum- formed in Uppsala, Sweden in 2009 they released their debut album The Séance in 2010 and then followed that up with a European tour in 2011. 2011 also saw them with a line up change – replacing their guitarist and signing a worldwide deal with Metal Blade. 2012 sees them replacing their drummer and touring Europe again and that brings us nicely to 2013 and the recording and imminent release of Final Sacrifice.

So, history aside let’s get to the music. The album kicks off with Conflagration an absolute gem of a track. It’s all 70’s era guitars with layers of glorious vocals, some Ozzy reminiscent screaming and a lovely drum line. Listening to it the firs time, it was totally unexpected- I’d expected a more death metal sound, proving one should never judge an album by it’s cover. Oh, and there’s some frankly beautiful instrumental sections- the track is just over 5 minutes long, so lie back and enjoy it.

Liberty in Death  picks up the pace a little more with a throbbing start that morphs into militaristic guitars. Again the sound is so 70’s and very reminiscent of Sabbath, but don’t be fooled into thinking this is just a rip-off- this band has a lot of originality going for it. I love the song melodies that are tied through each song, and overlaid with some brilliant vocals.

Resurrected in Evil has an enticing beginning – and reminds you this album is telling a story all of the way through. Resurrected asks you to slide deeper into the unfolding horror story. The riffs might be relaxing but it’s a trick – at the end of the day there’s a sacrificial theme and it won’t be denied.  Deadly Connection hints at a creepy beginning and then segues straight into a classic rock riff and then back into creepy and it’s just…. befuddling. But in a good way – this is a fairly fast paced track that’s entirely instrumental  and shakes of the shades of lying in a dark room the earlier tracks bring.

Void of Emptiness  brings backs David Indelöf’s wonderful vocals and switches from heavy, funeral guitars to more upbeat riffs that demonstrate this band are all about the melody and have a guitar line up to make Dio weep.  The Revisit has a heavy bassy start overlaid with what sounds like pipes and there’s a more orchestral feeling to this track than the rest of the album. It soon picks up though slamming into heavy guitars and at 7 minutes long is a fairly impressive track.

 A Burning Will is a punchy tune- it’s almost perky when compared to the heavy slow pace the rest of the album features. The riffs are all very NWOBHM and I’m strongly reminded of that classic Iron Maiden sound. The drum line is also a lot more evident in this track whereas in some of the others the drums are hidden by the guitars.

Temple of the Living Dead is an epic track- 5 minutes of heavy guitars, perfect vocals and lyrics that lose you in the story. I’s a perfect penultimate track and leads you wonderfully into the final track Azoth. Azoth is a brilliant finisher. It ties the album up in a pretty little black and blood spattered ribbon and gives you a nice present.

Overall this is a fantastic album. It’s dark and heavy without being oppressive, and it displays a level of talent that means that I’m eagerly anticipating future releases. Noctum should be at the top of your ‘bands to watch’ list and I’d advise all lovers of classic metal to keep their eyes and ears open for news of a tour. The album is released on Tuesday and you can buy it here.

****/5

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