Review Summary: A landmark in Depressive Black Metal music that utilizes its masterfully crafted atmosphere to incredible effect
The first things that come to mind when one thinks of black metal are the last things a fan of Nocturnal Depression would think of. Black metal as a genre was built upon the idea of an album being a relentless assault of blast beats and tremolo picking whilst utilizing a very dark atmosphere and being ridden with Satanic lyrics throughout. By doing this, the bands could get across their own feelings of isolation from society and religion whilst making music so extreme that only those that truly understand it can appreciate it. Nocturnal Depression, however, are in a different class altogether.
This is a band that is one of the most prominent in the Depressive Black Metal sub-genre, and from the opening clean guitar notes of their debut it is clear that this is about as odd and alien to standard black metal as music can get. This is a release that focuses on the darker emotions that a human can feel toward themselves, such as the feelings of suicide and the will to harm themselves. In doing this, it escapes the cliches that many of the forefathers of the genre laid down and is free to torment its clearly masochistic listeners with a different array of tactics. The atmosphere here is not created by a never-ending storm of blast beats and constantly picked guitars, but instead takes the time to build up with clean guitar work and by the time the first song kicks in, it sounds completely gritty.
Sound samples and effects are also used to great effect across the debut album from this fantastic band, including the creaking of a gate opening and the whistling of the wind. The band scatters these across each of the song to add another dimension to their sound, often being mixed over the top of the clean guitar work. In doing this, the album has an added feel of realism as though the listener is taking a trip through the mind of the band, and as they do so the lyrical content will really sink in a lot better. This is not an album that is devoid of heaviness and aggression, however, as it is in fact just as hinged around it as many bands such as Darkthrone are, but it handles things a lot differently.
The first track serves more as a four and a half minute atmospheric build-up to the heaviness that ensues on the first of the songs containing vocals, but it more than does this job efficiently. However, it is on And Fall The February Snow where we finally get to see the rough vocal performance, and it is a masterful one at that. The black metal shrieks are handled fantastically over the top of a dark-sounding backdrop created with crashing cymbals, tremolo picked guitar lines and deliberately-paced piano work to make for a truly evil sound. Combined with lyrics such as the following, this is an extremely chilling soundtrack to suicide :
"The score of my soundtrack is written by blood
Music of suicide written in red
I did it myself, my wrists are also opened
And like my tears, it's cascading
Everything has been lost behind us
On my knees, hands on my face
The sun is appearing into the spring morning
Where I'm lying there's just nothing than my dust"
Nostalgia : Fragments Of A Broken Past is a landmark in dark atmospheric black metal, that makes great use of every instrument to lay down a fantastic set of songs that will get under your skin and make you want to perform the acts mentioned in the songs. This is a release best listened to as a whole album, otherwise the atmosphere will not truly grip you by the throat. Everything from the beautiful and yet haunting introduction to A Life For Suffering to the incredible title track is perfectly weighed against each other to hit the listener hard, and it passes with flying colors.