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NOCTURNUS
NOCTURNUS
The Key / Thresholds
(Earache Records)
48:16min / 43:47min

It's hard to believe that the NOCTURNUS debut "The Key" was already out of print for ten long years. I mean, these guys were the main reason for the acceptance of keyboards in brutal music and all of the ten featured tracks on "The Key" could easily be labeled all-time classics nowadays! So, this re-issue definitely makes a lot of sense! The band, which originally featured former MORBID ANGEL drummer / vocalist Mike Browning, released two demos prior to this masterpiece, of which 1988's "The Science Of Horror" pretty quickly established them within the underground! No surprise that the four demo songs 'Neolithic', 'BC / AD', 'Standing In Blood' and 'Undead Journey' all made it onto "The Key" in highly improved versions (the latter on the CD version exclusively). NOCTURNUS invented a technically brilliant executed form of unique Death Metal, always combined with very eerie keyboard sounds and a lyrical concept, mainly based on science fiction topics. The guitar work of Mike Davis and Sean McNennery is absolutely top notch and was even a big inspiration for MORBID ANGEL's mastermind Trey Azagthoth at the time. No need to mention any particular album highlights here - the entire record was (and still is!) an essential release that deserves a place in your collection right next to "Altars Of Madness", "World Downfall", "Cause Of Death" or "Left Hand Path"! Unfortunately 1992's follow up "Thresholds" presented the band in a little weaker shape. Mike Browning stopped doing the vocals in order to concentrate on his drumming exclusively and a guy named Dan Izzo was recruited for that job. He tried really hard to do his best, but unfortunately was lacking in Browning's charisma. The keyboards furthermore pretty much lost its dark approach and the overall sound of the band its original brutality, so that NOCTURNUS ended up becoming "just" a technical Death Metal band - which was too little to succeed on the long run... "Thresholds" is still a good album on its own, but by no means live up to the brilliance of "The Key"! Both CD's have just been re-released by Earache Records (remastered, but unfortunately without any bonus tracks or anything) - "The Key" with a slightly changed booklet (and poor quality cover repro) and "Thresholds" in its original format, so if you haven't bought them ten years ago - make sure to get your copies now!

Frank Stöver

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