Noctem – Oblivion

Oblivion is the second part of a trilogy from Spanish blackened death metalers Noctem and an album as intense and notable as its intent and theme. Following on from the 2009’s Divinity, the new album is a dramatic and crushing release and an impressive step forward for the band. The band already no stranger to strong praise with Oblivion is set to consolidate and further their status as one of the more exciting creative death metal bands.

From Valencia Noctem took until 2009 to release their debut album Divinity though there were releases from the band which formed in 2001. The demos Unholy Blood in 2002, a live cd live 2004, and the mcd God Among Slave all garnered increasingly strong acclaim but it was with the debut album that they made the deepest mark. 2008 saw founder members vocalist Beleth and guitarist Exo joined by bassist Ul, drummer Darko, and Helion on guitar, and it can be no coincidence it is with this settled line-up that fortunes and levels rose for the quintet.  

Shows and tours too took them further into the awareness and respect of more and more eager fans, sharing stages with the likes of Ragnarok, Gorgoroth, Finntroll and Carach Angren the perfect arena to share their inspired brutality lined with creative and melodic juices with more and more appreciative ears. Oblivion shows the band have now reached new heights and evolved into a beast that knows how to make aggressive and vital sounds delivered with passion and dark intensity.

Opening instrumental ‘Popol Vuh’ sets the scene with atmospheric brief soundscape that leads with increasing tension to the coming of something formidable. ‘The Arrival of the False Gods’ is that impending power, its violent crushing riffs and rhythms going straight for the jugular with only smart and distinctive guitar play giving any sense of a respite. It is a solid and commanding start though it does not give anything to go further than just riling up the senses. It is with its successor ‘Universal Disorder’ that things take off and stretch into loftier levels. Bristling with black attitude and determined destruction the track consumes every pore. Through his bestial growls and taunting delivery Beleth’s vocals are as emotive as the content and sit perfectly upon the driven riffs and the melodically infused insertions from the guitars.

The music throughout the album is forceful though despite its harsh and vehement nature does not unleash an intensity that is as destructive as it could have been, preferring to enforce the energy through striking and incisive melodies alongside precise and explosive blackened grooves under pummelling riffs. Songs like the mighty ‘Invictus’ the first single taken from the album and a track that ripples with oppressive and ominous malevolence reminding of the evil of masses wielding power throughout history, the unrepentant ferocity of ‘Seeking the Ruin Of Souls’ which literally burns flesh within the ear as the cutting guitars and scorching vocals strip the senses, and the amalgam of melodic beauty and knee buckling energy of ‘Unredemption’ satisfy and reveal their quality to deep effect.

Oblivion available worldwide via Rising Records / Metal blade Records is a haunting release full of foreboding within its blend of death metal and technical progressive melodies, though that is simplifying what they create. It is emotive and powerful combining an array of dark spite and malevolent beauty, a release that is at times majestic and always stirring. The sounds recall the likes of Behemoth, Dissection, and Kataklysm to name three, but it is also distinctive to Noctem and with a freshness that is reassuring. Bring on the final part of the trilogy as on this evidence it will be epic.

RingMaster 25/10/2011

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