Nocturnus
The Key


4.0
excellent

Review

by Zipzop5565 USER (20 Reviews)
April 24th, 2010 | 143 replies


Release Date: 1990 | Tracklist

Review Summary: A being of gluttonous envy constructs a device with one wicked idea in mind: to seal his position as the world’s ruler by traveling back in time to assassinate Jesus Christ. What follows is a frantic, fast paced trek into death metal.

Mastering the forces of teleportation
gaining the secrets to travel through time
approaching the vortex, chronometer reading 0 B.C.
What was the past will soon be changed
my first priority to destroy the manger
crushing the myth of paradox

-From “Destroying the Manger”


Sounding like something out of a Satanic James Cameron nightmare, Nocturnus’s concept album, “The Key”, turned many heads in the metal community with its use of keyboards, as well as the blend of science fiction themes with standard anti-Christianity/Religion. Though today, the use of keyboards in death metal isn’t anything new, in 1990, it was unheard of, and the band gained some attention as a result. Twenty years later, I discovered this album and gave it a listen.

Despite the brooding, atmospheric presence of the keyboards, the guitars are the highlight of this album. The riffs, for the most part, are fast and punishing, but can also be light and melodic at some points. The solos are blistering and frantic, and no song is limited to just one solo. The first song, “Lake of Fire”, for example, has more than three. Guitarist Mike Davis adds several shredding guitar licks: solo-like interludes often lasting less than ten seconds, and these only add to the frantic, fast paced sound of the album. While extremely technical, the sheer number of guitar licks and solos can be overwhelming, but they are rarely boring.

Drummer Mike Browning, formerly of Morbid Angel, also handles the vocals on this album, and he handles both tasks well enough. The vocals are somewhat raspy, yet dark and brooding, though I suspect they would be more powerful if the album’s production had been better. Also suffering somewhat from the relatively low production are the drums. Though thrashy, as well as punishing, the drums seemed somewhat muffled, and it can be difficult to make out some of the double bass patterns. Despite these shortcomings, the drums still do an excellent job maintaining the albums frantic rhythm.

The keyboards, the instrument that drew attention towards this band have an interesting role throughout the album. During the first half of the album, the keyboards’ purpose is to create a dark, brooding, evil atmosphere; fitting for the album’s lyrical content. Whether they are used as an opener (such as on ‘Lake of Fire’, ‘Undead Journey’, and “BC/AD”) or as acting as rhythm to the guitars, the keyboards help to keep the sinister atmosphere present among the shredding solos and punishing drums. Throughout the second half of the album, the keyboards shift to a more technological, sci-fi sound (such as on the songs “Andromeda Strain”, “Droid Sector”, and “Destroying the Manger”). Whatever their role on a song may be, the keyboards assist in the telling of this dark story, doing what the guitars and drums cannot do: change the atmosphere to reflect each song’s sound.

Much like the keyboards, the lyrics seem to split the album in half. “Lake of Fire” has the standard death metal lyrics describing demonic entities torturing souls in the depths of hell: normal run of the mill occultism. The first four songs speak of standard Anti-Religion, showing Mike Browning’s occult influence. While we get a hint of what’s to come in “Before Christ/ After Death”, it’s not until “Droid Sector” that we discover the narrator’s plot to assassinate Jesus Christ. “Andromeda Strain” leads the listener away from the occultist lyrics and more toward the sci-fi theme, culminating in the narrator’s ultimate goal in “Destroy the Manger”, and his subsequent rule in “Empire of the Sands.” The lyrics, coupled with the ambient keyboards and the frantic guitar work help to tell the story.

Probably the only ‘bad’ aspect of this album is the bass: it isn’t there. During the recording of this album, bassist Jeff Estes developed a drinking problem, and wasn’t able to track the bass. Mike Davis ‘recorded’ some of the bass on this album, but I can’t find it. I can only imagine how much the album would have benefited from an actual bass line, one a listener can make out among the guitars and keyboards.

While I can’t say this is a classic, it’s definitely a strong release by a band that would be overshadowed by Morbid Angel. The band does a good job blending guitars with keyboards, and keeping the atmosphere extremely dark, yet adding enough guitar wankery to keep the listener interested in the music, as well as the story behind it. The album cover is pretty sweet, too. Give this a listen if you’re a fan of death metal, or metal in general.

Recommended Tracks:
-Lake of Fire
-Neolithic
-Droid Sector
-Destroy the Manger



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user ratings (166)
Chart.
4.1
excellent

Comments:Add a Comment 
Zipzop5565
April 24th 2010


402 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

Album is out of print, I heard, but you can still download it.

Willie
Moderator
April 24th 2010


16049 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

Good review. I've read about this album before and forgot to check it out.

Digging: Skrew - Universal Immolation

Poet
April 24th 2010


5935 Comments


Review is good. I actually heard about four songs from this album late last year and totally forgot about it. I do remember them being really awesome though and I am definitely going to check this out.

rasputin
April 24th 2010


14550 Comments


lol nocturnus

R6Rider
April 24th 2010


4679 Comments


rasp I love how you just shit on almost everything

and I'm being serious, it always makes me chuckle

Digging: Diocletian - Gesundrian

thomasj12e34
April 24th 2010


195 Comments


lol rasp

rasputin
April 24th 2010


14550 Comments


lol rasp I love how you hate everything you dont even listen music for fun i mean come on dude whats the deal music is meant to be for enjoyment and youre always be hating i mean come on wheres the fun

R6Rider
April 24th 2010


4679 Comments


lmao

Zipzop5565
April 25th 2010


402 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

LAKE OF FIREEEEE

asdemonsburn
April 25th 2010


793 Comments


ENTER THE DROIDS

Cybernetic crafts approaching
through skies lit with fusion discharge
androids from the Gamma quadrant
moving at the speed of death

Now the human race is so vulnerable
invasion set for the attack
"Enter The Droids"

Command - Mission - Destroy - Planet -
Three - From - Their Sun

Caught within my tractor beam
bringing the craft to me
disable the robot for my own use
to aid in my escape

ENTER THE DROIDS

Fleets of ships are now arriving, overtaking
physical evasion is my only demise
left to me for my survival

Gaining data from their systems, overriding
to complete my invention, the time machine
only question is "Will it function?"


rasputin
April 25th 2010


14550 Comments


moving at the speed of death

Ulsufyring
April 25th 2010


1724 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

rasputin doens't like keyboards and doens't like deathrash so it's not really surprising he doesn't like this

still good, though

goes on for like 30 minutes too long

FadeToBlack
April 25th 2010


11034 Comments


yeah this is a really good album. only thing I don't like is how the guitars are pretty much constatntly solo-ing

Zipzop5565
April 25th 2010


402 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

The soloing can get pretty redundant, but it's still a good album.

Buccaneer
April 25th 2010


692 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

Awesome album, awesome review.

This album's pretty underrated.

bloozclooz
April 25th 2010


1770 Comments


sounds like a neat concept for an album.

course you can't kill jesus, js

FadeToBlack
April 25th 2010


11034 Comments


concept rules: time-travelling android from hell goes back in time to kill jesus and enslave the Earth?

epic

rasputin
April 27th 2010


14550 Comments



rasputin doens't like keyboards and doens't like deathrash so it's not really surprising he doesn't like this

but i do like keyboards and i do like death/thrash

i just dont like gay

Zipzop5565
April 27th 2010


402 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

This isn't gay, so there you go.

FadeToBlack
April 27th 2010


11034 Comments


just going to repeat that this rules and you need it



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