Wednesday, 3 November 2010

[ALBUM REVIEW] Nocturnal Depression - Nostalgia, Fragments of a Broken Past

1. And Fall The February Snow
2. A Life To Suffer
3. Intermezzo Pt I - Fragments Of The Past....
4. Suicidal Metal Anthems
5. Intermezzo Pt II - ... Lie Broken And Lifeless
6. Nostalgia
7. In My Dreams

Nocturnal Depression are somewhat of a cult act in the depressive black metal scene. They've been around for a good six years now and weathered the worst of the storm when the 'depressive' scene was at it's most saturated a couple of years ago. Now it's started to recede quite a bit, and Nocturnal Depression are still around, and still going strong with an album out this year, so that must must count for something at least? Add also to that they're French, and from my viewpoint the French scene is one of, if not the strongest scene operating at the present time. Without going into to much detail, it's swarming with fantastic bands.

Nostalgia – Fragments of a Broken Past or Nostalgia as I'll just call it from here in, was the début full length from Nocturnal Depression, originally released in 2006 on a limited run of tapes, and has seen a reissue on CD by Romanian label Sun and Moon. As far as releases by Nocturnal Depression go, Nostalgia has always been their strongest release, and with the re-recording and general improvement on this re-release, has only made it even better.

First impressions of the cover is that it is extremely cheesy, but the more you dwell on it, the more you realise that the cover is the perfect symbolism of what this album's whole concept is, the bleak sentimentality Nocturnal Depression are aiming to portray. Nostalgia by name, and most certainly nostalgia by nature.

From the hypnotic repetition of the opener with it's isolated guitar drifting beneath the wall of distorted riffing to the almost ballad-esque 'Lying Broken' with it's lone piano and Lord Lokhraed's jagged rasp the only other accompaniment, the album emits nothing but but nihility and hopeless melancholy. The real highlight of the album though lies within the longplayer 'Nostalgia' (of which there is a video of on the album as well), a sixteen minute suicidal dirge into a vacuum of emotions, again we have the melodic lead guitar working well with the oppressive riffing and thick bass. Think something like Nagaroth's Herbstleyd album, but substitute the rawness for melody. Even Lord Lokhraed's vocals are nigh identical to Kanwulf's, but Nocturnal Depression are much more that Nargaroth imitators. They draw the best out of early Xasthur and Forgotten Tomb as well and combine it with sublime effect. Plus when a band are able to include a Clint Eastwood movie sample in the middle of a song, they've got to be awesome, right?

The album isn't completely without fault, the drumming has always been Nocturnal Depression's weak point, and such is the case here. It's extremely hollow sounding and lacks weight behind it, it's not terrible by any means, but you can't help but notice with the standard of everything else around them. It's the guitarwork which is the real highlight of the album though, the riffing and leads have a soft, haunting tone and the riffing; foreboding, managing to keep authority and that typical black metal tone all at the same time.

Each song uses it's repetition to draw the listener in, while the album itself contains enough variation and identity throughout to make this album completely unique and a benchmark in a sub-genre full of bands who are content to sound exactly like each other. It requires a lot of listening and attention to let this album sink in, at least it did for me, but it's extremely rewarding. It's not too often you get DSBM which genuinely succeeds in being totally and utterly despondent, but when you do, it's fantastic. Nostalgia is much more than a simple black metal record, a misty eyed gaze back through life. Someone hand this man a tissue and some prozac, he needs it.



Written for Metalcrypt

Thanks to Robert @ Sun & Moon

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