NeChrist (The End Records)
By: Jeb Branin
It is finally out! I had the distinct privilege of getting an advance of the rough tracks for this album almost a year ago and in a review published at that time predicted "NeChrist" would be, not only the best black metal album of 2000, but one that helped redefine the genre in countless positive ways. Now we get to see how Nostradamus-like I am. NOKTURNAL MORTUM have constructed what I honestly believe to be the prototype black metal album for the foreseeable future. They have taken the dark stained heart of evil that lurks in most music in this vein and added to it a combination of elements that are truly awe inspiring. Let me enumerate just a few of the highlights of this album... First of all, it is intense. For many black metal bands a move towards orchestration and atmosphere has meant a move away from the harsh delivery that many (myself included) consider requisite in metal. By contrast, N.M. use atmosphere and orchestration to enhance and underscore a blazing fast and surprisingly heavy guitar onslaught. In other words they still sound like a metal band, not like Lawrence Welk's orchestra. They also have kept the production raw and grating but not at the expense of clarity or quality. N.M. also have incorporated a large number of instrumentations and arrangements that herald the Russian culture and history that spawned them. This is the best use of ethnic and folk enhancements I have ever heard from a black metal band and it gives the music a depth and profoundness that recaptures the imagination with each listen. If you have been trying to find an album that successfully incorporates all of the multi facets of black metal but still manages to be unique and still comes across like a violent kick to the face, then look no further than "NeChrist". If you have been looking for a black metal album that regurgitates all the tired cliches of the black metal sound and does absolutely nothing new, then look somewhere else because you will never grasp the brilliance of this band. As black metal continues to self destruct under the weight of its own mediocrity it will be bands like NOKTURNAL MORTUM that prove they can survive and thrive.
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