Album: The Black Consecration
Artists continue to grow as the years go on. They’ll start with a sound that will bring them to a successful point in life, and successful bands will change with the tides of the industry to ensure they remain relevant with the status quo of music. Sometimes, this is due to record company pressure to remain relevant and keep audiences’ interest. Other times it’s due to the fact that members’ tastes can change over time, as maturing musicians’ tastes should. Sometimes, changing sounds is just for fun. No matter the case, Noctem started as a straight death metal band with their debut release in 2009, Divinity. Many death metal fans flocked toward their sound, enjoying every second of skull-crushing brutality and emphasized hatred toward humanity. However, as the years went on, Noctem began to develop a rather blackened-death sound as seen with their previous release, Haeresis. Haeresis is the album that drew me to this band; they had the sinister vibes mixed with the modern tightness of a death metal band and production that was clear enough to have coherency within the music. Blackened-death metal is a genre that has both the exhilaration and speed of black metal but the brutality and punchiness of death metal. With their newest release, The Black Consecration, for some listeners it may appear somewhat less digestible than previous releases.
The Black Consecration is not a bad album, let’s make that perfectly clear. This album is something that Noctem has been slowly working toward since Oblivion, their sophomore album. Incorporating more evil atmospheres within their music as the releases went on, it was only natural that Noctem would perpetuate their sound with black metal. The album, overall, maintains the blackened-death feeling as previous albums, but takes a larger bite into the blackened aspect of things – which works incredibly well. The production is not as tight or punchy as previous releases, which is what makes it somewhat less accessible to listeners. While the drums are definitely recorded legit and are not electronic, there’s still that lo-fi feeling going on that is often seen with black metal releases. Honestly, it works for what the album’s themes encompass. There’s the feeling of winter, the bitter cold sends the listener into a deep pit of despair and struggling for freedom only makes the listener fall faster.
The album still contains death metal aspects. Songs like “Coven” and “Sulphur” show off the more black metal-esque feeling that the album emphasizes, but songs like “Uprising the Impenitents” and “All That Now Belong to the Earth” contain the heavier, more death metal aspects. The atmosphere is cut out and the songs run with straight brutality, ripping the listener apart without the atmosphere swirling within the ears of the listener. There’s a cool, more mature vibe with the album as well. The other albums were all about speed, teeth-snarling carnage and visceral disgust, whereas this album incorporates the speed while taking itself a little more seriously. Death metal and black metal are all about speed, heaviness, and themes, and Noctem hit all the check boxes to usurp the status of blackened-death.
Overall, The Black Consecration is an album that takes a few listens to truly understand. Fans of that old-school black metal production will find interest in this album, and looking within the album will keep their satisfaction with how well written this album really is. Old fans need to have an open mind listening to this album; it appears vastly different from their previous albums, yet at the same time the natural layers of what Noctem is all about are right in front of the listener. After some digging, many will find The Black Consecration as a superb album, littered with secrets and enticing riffs.
FFO: Old Behemoth, Old Emperor, Dark Funeral