Listening to the sounds of UK goth rock band Strange Nocturnal is like aurally exploring the pages of classic visual incitements like The Haunt of Fear, The Vault of Horror, Tales from the Crypt, and House of Mystery. As shown by their new release though, their sound and drama comes with a just as rich industrial, metal, and horror punk flavouring to produce dark tales with a voracious snarl and ferocity bred from the visceral climate of the modern world. A collection of tracks released between 2009 and 2011, Best Of Strange Nocturnal is a full adventure for the senses and imagination, and it gives ears a pretty good time too.
Strange Nocturnal is the brainchild and originally solo project of Cumbrian musician/composer/producer Strange Nocturnal. From 2011 the band become full line-up wise and swiftly unleashed their debut album Party With The Dead. A host of varied releases have haunted the psyche since, the acoustically driven Halloween Is Never Really Over, the cinematic and dark ambient instrumental exploits of Undead Decadence, and the abrasing exploration of Cumbrian Gothic some open examples of the diversity within the world of Strange Nocturnal. Released via Undead Artists, Best of… teases and seduces, haunts and violates senses and thoughts to provide a macabre blood strewn soundscape.
This Halloween starts the adventure off, its immediately sinister air drawing the listener into a melodically gothic embrace wrapped in lurking and menacing shadows. Extending its intimidating arms soon after, the track grows into a light exhausting stalking of the senses, its hungry presence at ease whether prowling or charging through ears. There is a Tim Burton meets Rob Zombie meets Godflesh feel to the track, its crunchy textures offset by the siren-esque tones of female crafted harmonies.
The captivating start is continued by There Are Ghouls and Ghost’s, a sample of Vincent Price the gateway into an infectious stroll which in turn builds into a fiery turbulence. The vocals of Strange Nocturnal as in the first and subsequent tracks, come clad in smoggy effect but with plenty of room for a variation to show its lures. White Zombie like in many ways but also holding a great essence of Fad Gadget to its bracing charm, the song swings with a rhythmic revelry which infects grooves and melodies. The increasingly contagious blaze is followed by the addictive stalking of Curse of the Werewolf. Again there is an infectious bait at the heart of the song which makes its rhythmic and spicy hooks irresistible whilst around them the air is tempestuous and coarsely hazy, a fuzzy causticity which at times also ignites the potent vocals. Thoughts of The Shanklin Freak Show emerge as the song radiates its temptation and proceeds to prowl with diversely flavoured mystical spicery.
The Undead March instantly has ears and emotions hooked next, its great repetitive striding the first lure in an addictive predation. Vocals are once more wrapped in an insidious effect but undiluted in the virulence of their lead to and part of the full seduction of the song. Holding a whiff of Ministry to its irrepressible persuasion, the track is ridiculously compelling, something the musty metallic tones of The Bitch Was a Witch cannot quite match but with its serpentine breath and smoggy textures, the song makes the most of its moment to tantalise ears. For personal tastes the vocals are over immersed in the oppressive intensity of the music, a small thing which could be raised a few times across the band’s sound in general, but it easily has appetite keen and ready for the next up Fancy Death Party. Fuelled with a great blues winery with southern rock kissed harmonica, the song is another with a devilish swagger to its gait and magnetic toxicity to its sound.
The dark crawl and insidious temptation of She’s My Graveyard Ghoul-Friend has the imagination walking a toxic romance whilst Without Your Head provides a deranged maelstrom of emotion and voices within industrial filtered gothic metal corrosiveness. Though neither lives up to the biggest pinnacles of the collection, each with an underlying catchiness and adventurous climate has ears and thoughts fully engaged before the tempestuous slow waltz of Party With the Dead takes over. The song is a temptress with mercury running through its veins and demonic elegance soaking every melody and harmony on a bed of dark rhythms and imposing intensity lorded over by Strange Nocturnal’s satanic vocals.
The album is completed by the rasping Luciferian tones of Loving You From Beyond This Grave, the track Poe-esque in its dark radiance and fiendish in its industrial/noise sculpted causticity, and lastly The Crow’s Are Calling. The closing track has a devilry and mischievous tempting to its frequently shifting enterprise, an enslaving devilment which could be described as Doctors of Madness and Zombina And The Skeletones being violated by the raw ferocity of Young Gods.
Though there are understandably favourites which stand out and an ebbing and flowing of potency across songs, all tracks across Best Of…provide an enthralling and dramatic glimpse into the creative tempest of Strange Nocturnal, band and artist. The thoroughly enjoyable album is inspired by the darkest corners and emotions with the potential and a black seduction which could ignite the brightest fires in the imagination or spark the worst rapacity in your nightmares.
Best Of Strange Nocturnal is available now via Undead Artists @ http://strangenocturnal.bandcamp.com/album/the-best-of-strange-nocturnal
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