Review Summary: A rather excellent, somber album I should say.
It seems nowadays that musicians are trying to be "innovative" by juxtaposing genres to such an extent that it is really unclear what it the main focus of the band. Sure, some outfits like Kayo Dot explore more so with claustrophobic textures and musical density than genre, but somehow, they still transcend genres. Some vanguard outfits like Naked City have taken this in stride, and used it to their advantage. Incoherent discord was their game, and they proved that not only were the one of the most innovative groups around, but they were also one of the best. But others have decided that this is not to be their destiny. Nocte Obducta is one of these groups.
Never placing their originality as the utmost priority, this band is obviously influenced by vanguard material. However, they do not make it so evident that the music falters in subsequent event. They use every bit of innovation they have acquired throughout their musical growth and expanded upon it tremendously. And using such acquisition to put forth a somber auditory onslaught is clearly advantageous to their album, Nektar: Teil 1 - Zwölf Monde, Eine Hand voll Träum
Tracks like the stunning “Winter: Dezembermond” are rather bleak soundscapes that showcase the band’s talent for composing exquisite somber delicacies whilst retaining the intensity that could easily be assuaged by the more serene sects of the song. These serene moments are found mostly at the end of the track, and only reflect their German lyrics which are extremely funereal in nature.
For example, the closing track boasts lyrics which roughly translate to, “I walk through the valleys/I take control of my lonely step/It’s gentle sound makes me tremble/and makes the dead cower behind walls/with dwindling embers/those of low blood walk through the snowy valleys.” Rather than express abstract concepts, or making evident use of allusions, Nocte Obducta take a rather timid approach with their bleak lyrical content.
Passages like, “As tears of a forgotten God fall/in the dream of a dead queen/the mist carries the black tulip Requiem/via lilacs and the black lullaby”* express the aforementioned macabre take on subject matter, and exemplify it with a more poetic approach. Although this genre is not based off lulling, distant melodies, the poeticism crawls to the forefront of the music.
Although there are several capable musicians in the band who show their skill at crafting dark, intense, technical masterpieces (sweeps, quaint time signatures, and an excess of tremolo plucks are incorporated into the music), melodic passages are found I know not how oft on this record, taking the reigns of this aural assault exquisitely. This is expected from a genre like this though, unlike the tribal beats that are used phenomenally in tracks like, “Frühling: Des Schwarzen Flieders Wiegenlied." Rather than taking these tribal rhythms and focusing an entire song on them, Nocte Obducta take the route of incorporating these sections of creativity where apt, as not to detract from the music’s brilliance. Jazzy bits are thrown in where apt as well for the same reason, and folk bits are made use of properly and therefore do not assuage the album’s impact, nor do they make the overall product of the album of lesser quality. While everything seems fine and good, there are some minor faults that make their way into the music.
Firstly, the black metal aspects of the album do occasionally seem reminiscent of previous songs on this album. On a cursory listen, this does not interfere much with the quality of the album, but with more delving, this layer of similarity is revealed. Secondly, the vanguard elements should be prolonged, as these quirks improve the quality of the songs by a great deal. Do not take this out of context, though! The band’s take on black metal is not tedious; it’s just plagued with the fact that it has been done before with a few dissimilarities here and there. Had the aforementioned tribal beats been a focal point of the music for a while longer, or had there been a segue to the black metal piece that was to ensue, the track would have a larger potential. And lastly, the production is a bit gritty, even if that is expected from the genre. But with these flaws, this album is an excellent work of somber brilliancy. Complete with portentous doom, discordance, musical technicality, and a great deal of innovation, Nocte Obducta’s album, Nektar: Teil 1 - Zwölf Monde, Eine Hand voll Träum
is not something to miss.
FINAL RATING: 4.3/5-A rather excellent, somber album I should say.