Nocturnal Arkonian Hordes
Review by Felix on May 28, 2023.
“Nocturnal Arkonian Hordes”, ornamented with a very attractive artwork, is an album that can be used to cement the good reputation of Polish black metal in the worldwide scene. “No Blood in My Body” is a creation that bundles all positive elements of this work. For example, it houses a lot of parts with massive machine gun drums that trample everything into dust. By the way, the high speed drumming lends the songs a very thick density. But Arkona also manage other approaches. The beginning of the aforementioned song is not its most furious section. Arkona feel free to start with a sinister melody line. It sets the stage for the remaining five minutes in an almost perfect manner. Listen to it, feel the atmosphere and you will probably understand that the word “nocturnal” does not appear in the title by chance. Of course, “No Blood in My Body” also holds the evil voice which does not offer a lot of variety, but many misanthropic and hateful vibrations. However, the best detail of the song is the piano that surfaces suddenly. Its pretty harmonic tones fight with the brutal inferno of the other instruments. I cannot say which side wins this battle, but I am sure that the piano enriches the sound of this album, at least in this highlight.
I have already mentioned the vocals. It’s very sad that the lead singer died in 2017 (R.I.P.). On this recording, he sounds pretty one-dimensional, but this is in no way an accusation. Messiah works as the stable, hostile component in the overall construction of Arkona’s material. Even better, it feels as if he was full of passion for the art the band created. This is understandable in view of the unbreakable power that “Nocturnal Arkonian Hordes” develops. Perhaps some people might say the very fast parts are at risk of appearing sterile in rare moments, but I think they are just a brute force. And black metal is, maybe you share the following, very daring thesis, no lullaby music and a proper dose of violence is an inherent element of the sub-genre. Bands like Summoning are just the exception which confirms the rule. Thus, I enjoy the most aggressive parts of the full-length very much, even though the drums act according to the motto: a lot helps a lot.
But let’s get away from Witchlord, the hyperactive hero behind the drum kit. Instead, let’s have a look at the guitars. It’s not only the majestic closer which presents cold, almost magical and effective melodies. Or should I say melodic fragments, because harshness subjugates harmony permanently. Anyway, the necessary (small) portion of melodies is well embedded in the merciless sound of Arkona’s third full-length. This is surely a positive detail, but it gets even better: all my words of praise refer to each and every song. Arkona were too lazy to pen a boring number. This fact results in a compact, almost monolithic album that knows no loss of quality during its playtime of 42 minutes. No doubt, the six properly produced tracks of “Nocturnal Arkonian Hordes” form a chain without weak link. Moreover, they lend the release a very commanding, totalitarian aroma. From my point of view, this release is even better than the youngest (good) albums of the band, because it is not free from an insane touch. Therefore I am sure that black metal fans miss a good listening session if they do not know this restless, profound outburst of musical and spiritual strength.
Rating: 8.8 out of 10121