Review Summary: Diverse without being eclectic, experimental without being progressive, Lecherous Nocturne have made an album that won't redefine death metal, but might just comfortably carve it's own niche.
Lecherous Nocturne certainly isn’t a predictable band. In fact, ‘diverse’- if not abundantly ‘chaotic’- proves a good watchword to bear in mind when listening to their second album ‘The Age of Miracles has Passed’. Without a doubt the band’s sound remains dry as dust at heart, but that doesn’t seem to have restrained their rampant desire to experiment with, well, just about everything. The resultant sound stands somewhat above its contemporaries due to its being punctuated with a smattering of divergence that, whilst not revolutionary in any sense, acts as an augmentation. Far be from it to say that Lecherous Nocturne is one of the most investigational bands of death metal: instead, they accompany an interesting niche that enhances their appeal beyond the mediocrity others often mire themselves in. It is this more explorative approach that makes them a nicely listenable prospect.
Of course, ‘The Age of Miracles has Passed’ hardly disappoints on the brutality front. For the underground connoisseur it provides more than a fair share of blastbeats and scything riffs to accompany a gurgling vocal growl. Songs such as the hyper-fast ‘Requiem for the Insects’ adopt this aggressive methodology with full hearts, adhering to the traditionalist’s template. Indeed, the album boasts a complement of strong fretwork, with the guitar lines managing to mostly remain firmly on the good side of tedious and the sudden tempo changes offering a little multiplicity here and there. The drums too are solid (if not stunning), and comfortably add to the overall dynamic with minor notable detractions aside from a slight lack of imaginative input- constant cymbal hammering does occasionally grate. Technical ability in these harsher sections is also reasonably affirmed, the only real issues being with the occasional loss of distinctiveness in some song sections as chaos overtakes care. If the above death metal elements were the only features of Lecherous Nocturne, the resultant product would be a comfortably listenable album, but one without distinction. But that’s where experimentation lifts the band that little bit further.
The band isn’t even close to hyperbolic in its experimental qualities- ‘The Age of Miracles has Passed’ is far from a Mastodon concept album, or the dizzying prog-metal grandeur Enslaved purvey. Instead, it is an array of smaller touches that makes the album as a whole stand out somewhat, giving its consistent brutality the differentiation it needs to be that little bit more. Most noticeable is the use of atmospherics to add a sense of menace to the opening and closing tracks, ‘Just War Theory’ and ‘The Preponderance of Fire’ respectively. Whilst far from genre-redefining, these gothic overlays add another dimension to what could otherwise have sounded all too similar to many other low-key death metal albums in circulation- the difference isn’t huge, but it is worthily marked. Another aspect lies in tempo shifts, something many take for granted but something that proves all too rare in underground bands obsessed with thrash-style speed. The crushingly slow, almost doom-like, sounds of the title track act as an engaging alternative to the shredding and clattering blastbeats of the other songs; indeed, several other tracks incorporate similar tempo shifts for an effect that allows them to transcend tedium. These elements of creativity are very innocuous, I grant you, but they do make a pleasurable difference in an album of this musical style.
To conclude, Lecherous Nocturne weren’t the definitive statement on underground death metal I had hoped them to be. They weren’t the next Opeth, or even the next overly theatrical Dimmu Borgir for that matter. But they were something, although less fundamental to the diversity of the world’s music, that sparked a certain interest in me. Having listened to a huge array of upcoming death metal bands, spending listless hours in a sojourn through the murky underground scenes, ‘The Age of Miracles has Passed’ grasped me where other albums had failed to take root. Yes, I was satisfied with the quality of the savage technicality, yes, I enjoyed the staple elements of death metal well-performed. The key thing is that I also saw something more. Something different. Give this album a try- it won’t blow away all your classics, but it might manage to blow itself into a space on your record shelf. Oh, and the song titles are fairly awesome. What more reason to you need?