Review by Luka on May 11, 2002.
Ukraine's Nokturnal Mortum seem to be honing their own "sound" much faster than most black metal bands. Their true musical character is becoming ever clearer and as the mask slides off the boys make it known that they've wandered well away from their inceptive sound; the safe and accepted, keyboard-laced Dimmu Borgir-style. Well, the keyboards are history and so is the clean production, and what seems at first to be a step backwards is actually a launch into a much more mature and unique musical avenue that they won't be leaving anytime soon.
Like Amorphis, Enslaved, and countless others, Nokturnal Mortum have slowly come to throw open their black metal gates and adopt a multitude of traditional-homeland folk influences, but not letting them mess things up too much. While black metal still dominates it won't go on for half a minute without some persistent traditional Ukrainian influence budging in, and I like it, the band has found their nichë. Being of the Slavic race myself I can't help but feel a distant, primeval tie to this kind of music.
Now be forewarned that this is a hard album to get into and it's meant to be approached with an open mind and a fair bit of patience. This is not something listeners should be bothered with, but the pay-off here is worth it. The production quality has gone down and the weakened, raw guitars have taken a back seat to deep, majestic synths to form an overall sound very reminiscent to early Emperor. Bizarre instruments and strange noises (only way I can describe them) overlapping the aforementioned synths, however, add a completely different flavor. A first impression of a crazy noise cacophony mixed with primitive black metal will, over time change into a meaningful and interesting kind of music that incorporates all kinds of emotional elements and invokes a range of feelings. From fear and darkness, ('The Child of Swamps...') to visions of fun, drunken dancing around the fire ('The Funeral Wind...') are all vivid examples of the above.
"NeChrist" is definitely something unique and Nokturnal Mortum are the flagship for East European metal forces heading west. The album's ultra-generic black metal template is refined with traditional influences and has a strange exotic flavor that would easily compliment any metalhead's dish. The prime standout from "NeChrist" would be the closing piece, 'Perun's Celestial Silver'.
Bottom Line: Definitely a safe buy for the curious and inquisitive black metal fan. A raw album heavily packed with traditional Ukrainian influences.
Categorical Rating Breakdown
Rating: 8 out of 10