Review by Luka on June 8, 2001.
I admit I had my misgivings about a black metal band from the Ukraine. Mortum are really the first, and still, the only –Ukrainian - metal band I’ve ever even heard of. Let’s see what kinda evils have been lurking behind the Iron Curtain. Can the six boys from Nokturnal Mortum cut it? Hell Yeah!!!
I had no idea what to expect here, the lavish use of keyboards completely took me off guard as I was expecting something dark and primitive like Graveland (of Poland). Instead I got Dimmu Borgir’s lesser-known twin, and let me tell you these guys are every bit as good, especially as this mighty album is only their debut. The guys do all the sounds and atmosphere themselves, they need no studio effects since they’ve got two synth keyboard players, pouring in their symphonies and melodies like mortar to the standard construction of twin-guitars, twin bass (at times) and the drums.
Not single note is lost in the clear production. Each song Nokturnal Mortum execute comes to life and the music and atmosphere created is a textbook definition of black metal with keyboards, which got Cradle of Filth and Dimmu Borgir to the top of the genre’s food chain. I don’t know why so many people hate keyboards in black metal, or don’t consider it ‘black metal’ anymore. If it’s done right it can easily kick Emperor or Immortal’s ass, especially as Emperor may not have an official keyboard player but all their albums are swarming with studio sound effects. If you don’t wanna call it black metal then call it something else, it kicks ass and that’s the bottom line.
The songs here are complicated, progressive and long as hell (many are over 10 minutes). I particularly liked that they added a fair bit of Ukranian folk style music (most notably on "Kolyada") which really gives them a unique sound of their own and not just another generic Dimmu-metal sound. It’s now become a trend in underground metal, but these are the guys were doing it before, away from, and better than the rest. They know how to pick and find the best riffs and melodies and fuse them together to form these godly epics. "Kuyaviya" and "Veles’ Scrolls" are the choice cuts here. It’s a little amateurish but what can you expect of a debut? I can see that a lot of work and dedication were put into this thing and it turned out damn fine.
Bottom Line: Excellent. If you’re any kind of black metal fan and like keyboards then this is an absolute must.
Rating: 8 out of 10