Review Summary: Gore or pristine melodies... why not both?
Nuctemeron were one of the countless swarm of widely understood death metal bands, appearing closer to the tail end of the initial movement. By 1994, the genre branched off considerably, and the guys were stuck with an overabundance of paths to follow. To go for a more gore-based approach, trying to make the experience as disgusting as possible? To indulge in the less primal, refined melodic side, with broadened orchestration?
In the end, they just couldn’t make their minds up, and A Time the World Forgot features both sides of the fence. Take heed that this isn’t a kind-spirited hybrid akin to what Visceral Evisceration was up to, but rather feels like two disparate camps being forced to make a record together. As such, forget about any semblance of flow or continuity throughout, and prepare for some pretty heavy highlight fishing.
The foundation on which all of these tracks are built is pretty uniform throughout – thick, mid-paced death riffs with a tinge of doom. They tend to work particularly well with the more melodic songs, as the more refined phrases intertwine with the wall of guitars to produce something both hard-hitting and aesthetically pleasing. The best example of this is the magnum opus of the record, the closer “Return to the Temple of God”. Sparsely placed keyboards give the guitars some breathing room to vary up their delivery, but the melodic nature is retained throughout without getting saccharine. The thing never gets old through its 8 minute run time. If only more melodic death metal was like this…
It’s not all fun and games, though. The other melodic songs are okay, but nothing to write home about due to their cornier keyboard arrangements and inferior structuring. With a bit more attention, they may have come close to the heights the album closer scales. It’s the more gore-centric material where things get ugly. The two worst offenders are the two shortest tracks of the record – “The Rapist” (complete with a voice sample, obligatory for all gore-centric metal these days) is as obnoxious as the title would lead you to believe, and “Perversions of a Holy Man” features some incredibly out of place and forced speedier influences, complete with one of those “please send assistance I don’t know what are notes” solos that Slayer’s so fond of. The only purpose those songs have is to obliterate any semblance of stylistic uniformity the album may have possessed, as they merely drag the quality level down.
Whilst the duality works passably in the cover art, and in the work of other bands, Nuctemeron couldn’t pull it off. I wouldn’t be all that surprised if it turned out that there were two separate camps in the band, each dragging the other’s work down and creating within-band distaste towards the material at hand. After all, the band did make “Return to the Temple of God”, which is an 8-minute, excellently executed beast of a track. As such, they probably had it in them to pay more attention to the other melodic tracks and possibly attempt another approach for the more gore-based side of the repertoire (or, better yet, abandon it altogether). Maybe by the time they got to the studio they were so sick of it all that they just wanted to get it over with quickly, what would neatly explain the mild sloppiness of execution throughout. Still, all that’s left is the one album, leaving the listener to ponder what motives led to its creation and how things may have played out differently.