The Nocturnus Demos
An extremely good idea to put those two legendary demos on one CD to say the least. First demo from late 1987 featured the very first NOCTURNUS line-up with Bateman (ex-AGENT STEEL, now in NASTY SAVAGE), Crowley (ACHERON), Marino and of course the one and only Mike Browning since NOCTURNUS was his new project following the short lived INCUBUS. Four Death Metal tracks featuring Browning's evil voice coupled with his unique type of drumming (those drum rolls remains unmistakable), effective riffs, basic structures, all the elements for a winner you may think?! Well not completely considering that two tunes, 'Unholy Fury' and 'BC/AD' (which is the only tune to have appeared on a later album) sound too generic for my liking, on the other hand 'Nocturnus' remains one of the best tracks they've ever done. It's just too bad that it was never recorded properly later (instead of 'BC/AD' for example) and also 'The Entity'. The second demo from 1988 featured a new line-up and also the beginning of a new approach / sound with axeman Mike Davis especially who already delivered over the top lead work assisted by Marino. Joining this revamped line-up was bassist Jeff Estes and keyboard player, Louie Panzer, the recording being produced by Jon Oliva of SAVATAGE fame. This new effort was much closer in structure and sound to what NOCTURNUS would become shortly after via their early albums. Opener 'BC/AD' was already a step forward from the previous version but the next three tunes 'Standing In Blood', 'Neolithic' and 'Undead Journey' were much more technical (but still steps below the likes of 'Gridzone' or 'Empire Of...') and challenging for the musicians but also for the listener I'd say. Technical Death Metal on the way to become a new variation in that style joining the likes of ATHEIST who were developing their sound and skills as well. Definitively a must for NOCTURNUS fans but even for those who were mad at the technicality displayed later on because those early recordings were still largely accessible for those looking for the basics of Death Metal. This CD version of both tapes comes with several old pictures, flyers, democovers, reviews, lyrics and liner notes from Mike Browning himself.
- NOCTURNUS - The Key / Thresholds - by Frank Stöver