MetalBite Review by Alex on 9/3/2018 4:33:50 PM
Nocternity has been releasing quality black metal since the year 2001. I had only discovered them in 2017, how have they been so obscure for so long? En Oria is solid enough to attract some inquisitive eyes and ears.
Harps of the Ancient Temples is the soundtrack of a chest pounding warrior. Imagine your 5-year-old daughter/son is building a sand castle on the beach, upon completion; a sweaty, sticky, hairy version of David Hasselhoff in his prime, emerges from a distance and begins to jog within the path; with his chest bloating in the air, he obliviously tramples on and over the just completed sand castle. And instead of offering an apology; he inconsiderately marches on without a care in the world. Look at how the artwork glorifies itself in saying to the viewer "behold my greatness!, now bow your head in shame and disgrace of the fact that you will never look and be as strong and intimidating as I am." Remember that line from Pam Ferris aka ''Trunchbull'' in the 1996 family movie Matilda? "I'm big and you're small, I'm right and you're wrong", this sums up Harps of The Ancient Temples.
Harps of the Ancient Temples has a very slow pace in musical structure. Most of the songs trod a narrow path between doom and death metal; whilst still maintaining the traditional black metal sound and feeling. The drums handle the doom, the vocals handle the death and the guitars handle the blackness. All of the songs seem to be meticulously composed; with an emphasis being placed on flow and atmosphere. The transition from one song to the next is important when attempting to immerse the listener; Nocternity does this like a monarch of the musical arts. Momentum is key; I cannot mention this enough.
The tremolo picking is introduced when and where it should be, that being said, I must give substantial credit to the guitarist Ιωάννης Αλέξανδρος Ματζώρος (loannis Alexandros Magoros) for his highly skilled and admirable work on every track. His guitar solos on songs such as the self titled track, "Andromeda" and "Blood Rite Tree" are sexy and are played with much passion. The guitar solos are utilized sparingly thus giving other elements of the music a spotlight.
Not to be misunderstood, this is a very mean piece of art, the vocals and lyrics handle that well. Andreas Bauer's vocal style fall's somewhere between moderate black/death metal barks and deep death metal growls. Some lines are spoken, some are slightly whispered and some are delivered in a nefarious, authoritative and intimidating fashion. The lyrics are a pleasure to sit down and read thoroughly as the record spins. The lyrics on Harps of the Ancient Temples are very grim and portray a battle-tested warrior of old, a veteran of sword-wielding, an adept of combative sorcery of the ancient times.
For most of the album except the track "Titans", Nikos Samakouris's drumming follows the guitars in its slow trance-inducing rhythm. The drums are very audible even when the guitars hit the high notes. The beats carry a feeling of being struck with much will and dedication; similar to a medieval warrior as he prepares his battle gear for the next conquest; in which he emerges victorious.
The production on Harps of the Ancient Temples is loud and clear but not overproduced. I have no problem with this due to having heard almost all of Nocternity's older material, which has a very murky and claustrophobic sound that worked well; therefore a clearer production will showcase the band's strengths. Most of the songs on Harps of the Ancient Temples; notably B.O.D.D, River of Woe and the self-titled track, are so bombastic in sound, that one may feel the urge to sag his/her pants, tie a bandana around the forehead and "gangsta walk" during the winter, in - 0 degrees fahrenheit, with a blunt in mouth and "holla at all the homies".
This is an album that I am proud to have within my black metal collection. I am glad for the day in which I discovered Nocternity. I hope another album is in the works as this review is being written. Someone on YouTube said it well in the comments section of a track by Nocternity; I could not have agreed more, that Nocternity is "Greece's best-kept secret".
What can be said to accurately describe this album? Apart from my substandard, uninteresting literature, I reckon an excerpt from this obscure masterpiece would serve it justice.
"Unutterable strength from the unknown
Pouring all that is thy own
Blows of thy hammer, meld the spell
Forge a just will, on the anvile of hell"
Rating: 9.9 out of 10