More than four years after the release of their previous LP, 2005’s Weltanschauung
, Ukranian pagan black metal band Nokturnal Mortum have presented us with The Voice Of Steel
, an album which is both insanely varied and rock-solid. The amalgam of traditional eastern-European folk music, black metal, and touches of genres like blues and hard rock make Voice Of Steel
easily the most bold release of Nokturnal Mortum’s career. The black metal portion is less keyboard-centered, instead going for numerous guitar solos which draw influences from a wide array of musical styles and a good emphasis on the bass guitar. This styling really helps keep the one hour and twelve minute album from growing stale, and also shows a giant leap in songwriting progression for the band.
Save two tracks, each song clocks in at over eight minutes, going to upwards of twelve. This leaves a lot of room for a vast array of different riffs and transitions which make the ending of each song sound a world away from the beginning. Take, for instance, the third track “Valkyrie”: the song starts off right from the get-go with intensely heavy black metal laden with tremolo picking and blast beats before it breaks into a symphonic bridge before transitioning to clean chanting vocals, only to move to a slower guitar solo which brings to mind influences from 80’s metal to hard rock, before slamming you with more black metal. It might sound crazy, but Nokturnal Mortum somehow makes each and every song enjoyable despite countless different sounds flying around. The pristine production helps facilitate such a strong atmosphere, with each and every instrument audible at all times.
Indeed, the increased use of melody really makes The Voice Of Steel
an enjoyable listen and more than just an album which you will listen to once every few months. In both the verse riffing and the multiple guitar solos which show off a huge display of technicality which Nokturnal Mortum was, for some reason, hiding for so long, you will find excellent songwriting and a keen ear for harmony that helps to keep things constantly fresh. The atmospheric tracks like “My Dream Islands” and “Sky Of Saddened Nights” provide both an increased synth display as well as a calm, almost beautiful side to the music which even further displays the daunting array of different sounds displayed here. The heavier tracks, as well, often showcase extremely heavy mid-paced black metal which never overstays its welcome but almost always adds a solid base on which to build the remainder of the song.
It’s really impossible to fully describe how exactly The Voice Of Steel
sounds. It’s a unique album which most certainly deserves a spot in the top black metal releases of the year, as well as yet another affirmation that Nokturnal Mortum are one of the most consistently good pagan black metal bands in the scene. Their music, as it is displayed here, has matured to a sound which sets this band apart from any other in the world. The raspy scream of Varggoth to the hugely atmospheric cleans of guest musician W. Angel provide engaging vocal arrangements on top of the impressive musicianship, and as a package The Voice Of Steel
far and away surpasses fellow Ukranian band Drudkh’s latest album Microcosmos
, probably the only other release which sounds even close to what is displayed here. Four years was a while to wait for this album, but with the quality displayed on The Voice Of Steel
, it would have been worth the wait even if the album took another four to complete.