Nocturnus A.D.
Paradox

After departing from Morbid Angel singer/drummer Mike Browning went on to form one of the most original death metal acts of it time,-Nocturnus  I was fortunate to see them on the Grindcrusher tour on Long Island in 1990, while they were supporting their debut album The Key and Godflesh and Napalm Death were also on the bill.  The Key was brutal, yet I guess nowadays you would call it technical death metal, the mixture of the keyboards and sound effects really added to the soundscape of the album and it’s one of the best death metal albums ever released.  2 years later they put out Thresholds.  Another great album and it saw Nocturnus pull back from their brutality, going for a slower and more progressive sound, but nonetheless a brilliant album.  They disbanded shortly after releasing a 7” and came back with a third album without Browning some time later and for me, it really was not a Nocturnus album and was missing the it factor that the first 2 perfect albums had created.

Nocturnus AD did not really fully get going until 2013 and with Mike Browning again at the helm, where he belongs on drums and vocals, the long return of the true third Nocturnus album, Paradox, is finally out and it’s ridiculous.  Rounding out the band is Daniel Tucker on bass, Demian Heftel and Belial Koblak on guitars and Josh Holdren on keyboards.  a new line-up since the first 2 Nocturnus albums and Paradox can be wedged right the F between The Key and Thresholds.  There are Thresholds and The Key influence in abundance on Paradox, however this album is closer to The Key, due to the conceptual lyrical tie-in to The Key, the amazing album cover and more of the brutal nature of The Key.  And…..Paradox still sounds fresh, original and this is the longest Nocturnus album, at 53 minutes, the band gets things going with “Seizing the Throne” with excellent atmospheric keyboards and sounds before Browning’s double bass comes thumping in and you’re taken back to the late 80’s early 90’s already.  The sound they have replicated is great.  Awesome guitar riffs and solos over the double bass.  Browning letting out some nice howls and the songs gets into some fast double bass uptempo speeds.  Pay special attention to Browning saying “Lake of Fire” (from the debut) and then the 2.10 mark we get some nice pinch harmonics to make you lose your bowels over and the 2.40 part actually sounds like one of my other favorite bands-Gigan.  The nice doomy slow down at the 4.05 part is brilliant and this part reminds me of Thresholds with the guitar tone and guitar soloing.

“Paleolithic” is a standout song with the fast soloing and near blasting drums of Browning as he spots out venomous diabolical lyrics and the fast part at the 1.05 part makes me want to start punching holes in the walls.  Guitar solo sets in and then with the fast part returning a minute later we get a killer keyboard solo over that part.  So neat.  The 2.34 slow down and solos and drenched in atmospheric heaviness makes this one of the best album’s tracks.  “The Antechamber” is another strong track on the album.  Uptempo, killer drums and some of the vocal patterns and drums are just extra special on this song.   The drumming and rhythm section at the 2.10 part which trails on for a while is ferocious, heavy and super powerful.  The decision to end the album with the ninth track, titled “Number 9”, which happens to be an instrumental is a little peculiar.  I would have rather had the instrumental as the 8th song and the last song being “Aeon of the Ancient Ones” which is track 8 on Paradox.  The song is so amazing, that I like seeing bands end with another strong closer.  However the instrumental is really good and if I was to play Devil’s Advocate, it almost has a finality to it.  So whether the band intends to release more albums or are closing this Chapter of The Key out remains to be seen.

Paradox is excellent.  Strong musicianship, otherworldly original and the production is organic.  Not sure if the entire album was recorded in analog, but it definitely feels that way.  Naturally brutal and I like the mix.  The keyboards could have been a little juiced up during certain sections, because at times they get a little buried.  The album cover ties in great with The Key, and the classic Nocturnus logo is smoothed out a bit/updated and the booklet layout is wonderful.  In terms of the most original album for 2019-Paradox is it and Mike Browning has assembled a great line-up with Nocturnus AD.  The band needs to tour and they have already been announced for Maryland Deathfest 2020.  Paradox has wild songs, original ideas, soundscapes to immerse yourself into and very catchy keyboards that will be in your Gatorade-brain long after the album is over.  One of the best for 2019.  Buy or get decapitated by “The Bandar Sign”.

 

[Visit the band's website]
Written by E. Thomas
June 24th, 2019

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