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BARDO METHODOLOGY - review
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NOCTURNUS AD
NOCTURNUS AD
Paradox
(Profound Lore Records)
52:12min

Dear ladies and gentlemen, please welcome the legitimate successor of "The Key". Back in 1990 NOCTURNUS caused an uproar by incorporating synthesizer and keyboards into Death Metal and using Science Fiction orientated lyrics. That album still stands as a landmark for fascinating uniqueness. As so often the follow-up "Thresholds" could not reach the level of the debut and certainly (since in 1992 band members trademarked the name and fired Mike Browning from the band he himself created) the magic was gone. In 1999 Mike Browning together with the very first NOCTURNUS line-up from 1987 (only replacing Vincent Crowley by Mike Walkowski) formed NOCTURNUS A.D., they even did live shows as NOCTURNUS, but to avoid copyright issues the name was changed to AFTER DEATH (highlight of the band's career was a split-release with UNAUSPRECHLICHEN KULTEN in 2012) and with another turn in 2013 the band was named NOCTURNUS AD (without dods). Since I am not always up to date when it comes to new releases this album hit me without any prior warning. With open mound I admired the music crawling from my speakers and immediately felt transferred back to the early nineties. It is all there. Unique and unmistakable the vocal performance of Mike Browning, not necessarily the most brutal voice, but with that special kind of intonation. With riffs that clearly show the Thrash Metal origin of the genre Death Metal, assembled in songwriting with many twists and turns. And, of course, the swirling keyboards all over the place. The sound is the perfect example that you do not need high-end digital productions, down to earth and raw fits better to that blend of Death Metal. Even the cover artist Timbul Cahyono managed to pursue the concept of Dan Seagrave's artwork. But is is not a simple copy, not some kind of "The Key 2.0". Instead NOCTURNUS AD developed the style they once invented a step further. The songs are a bit more complex, some roughness and bumps regarding the songwriting have been rounded without loosing the technical approach. Much more space is given to the keyboards, most evident during the song 'Aeon Of The Ancient Ones'. Broadly spoken the atmosphere, Science Fiction or not, is evil as hell and due to the used riffs has a heavy touch of early MORBID ANGEL. To highlight single songs is simply not possible, since all songs are convincing with grotesque riffing from beyond, aggressive frenzy and at every moment the listener must fear to be held hostage by a riff, rhythm change, guitar solo, keyboard or vocal attack. No time to catch a breath! I would even go so far to say that most songs are equal to early MORBID ANGEL songs. But this is NOCTURNUS AD and some may hate all the synthesizer elements, but this is what made NOCTURNUS outstanding back in 1990 and that is what makes NOCTURNUS AD second to none in 2019. More information can be found here www.facebook.com/nocturnusad or www.profoundlorerecords.com

Mirco Szymyslik

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NOCTURNUS AD
NOCTURNUS AD
Paradox
(Profound Lore Records)
52:12min

If the name NOCTURNUS AD somehow sounds familiar in your ears or even rings a huge bell, you're pretty right. This band is, so to say, a successor to the well known Florida Death Metal band NOCTURNUS, who nearly revolutionised the back then young genre in 1990 with their debut album “The Key”. The very unique and sometimes lunatic use of synthesizers made this album stand out of the classic early albums of the genre, sounding like crazy MORBID ANGEL with extensively used keyboards. After this album, things didn't go well for NOCTURNUS, numerous line-up changes and mediocre albums lead to the temporary end of the band. In the consequence of the band's split, copyright problems caused some trouble for the follow-up projects. I don't want to bore you with all that shit, so let me just state that NOCTURNUS AD are here to pick up where NOCTURNUS have left. With Mike Browning as the only original member left, the band composed and recorded nine new songs for the first album in twenty years. The result is named “Paradox” and features an artwork that looks a lot like the painting Dan Seagrave did for “The Key”. And this is not a coincidence, since “Paradox” is intended as a journey back into the glorious past of NOCTURNUS. Of course you can hear that nearly thirty years have passed, trademarks like the madness, the rudeness and the sometimes absurd synthesizer phrases are gone. Their place have been taken by more elaborate and even more progressive songwriting. Thus the sound and style of NOCTURNUS AD is not really unique anymore. But songs like 'Seizing The Throne', 'The Antechamber' or the 'The Return Of The Lost Key' (this title is obviously intended as a statement) are still nice stuff with some quotes from the band's own history. “Paradox” is a comeback that ain't a smashing return, but I've heard worse attempts. Visit the band site www.facebook.com/nocturnusad or their label at www.profoundlorerecords.com

Thomas Meyer

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NOCTURNUS AD
NOCTURNUS AD
Paradox
(Profound Lore Records)
52:12min

Since finding out that Mike Browning’s NOCTURNUS AD would be releasing their much-anticipated debut album under the Profound Lore banner I got goose bumps. Like any fan of the old NOCTURNUS material I started to wonder if Browning would continue with the same sound found on "The Key" or “Thresholds” or if it would be a new sound all together. Mike has enlisted some familiar faces to round out the band: Daniel Tucker (ex - OBITUARY, recorded the "Slowly We Rot" album) is on bass, Belial Koblak (LETHAL PRAYER) on guitars, Demian Heftel (BRUTALITY) guitars and Josh Holdren on keys. Fans of the Sci-Fi Death Metal and Browning era NOCTURNUS get ready as we dive into “Paradox". Things kick off with the song ‘Seizing The Throne’ which is a great way to start an album. Great guitar riffs (hints of pre "Altars..." MORBID ANGEL) and use of once keyboards. Things really pick up with ‘The Bandar Sign’ and you can feel the energy of the first two NOCTURNUS albums on here. The only gripe I have is there is a loud fuzzy keyboard sound at the 2:45 mark that repeats throughout the song that was not necessary in my opinion as the music sounds killer without it. The production on this album is solid and not anything over the top, you can clearly hear all the instruments and they compliment the vocals. ‘Palolithic’ is one of the songs that stood out to me for the guitar riffs and keyboards did not drown out any of the music and laid down a good atmosphere. ‘Precession Of The Equinoxes’ and ‘The Return Of The Lost Key’ are another pair of tracks that really stand out. They embody all the ingredients of a memorable jam. The Sci-Fi and deity worship goes into new high gear on 'Aeon Of The Ancient Ones’ with the synth-strong intro and the guitar riffs / solos. At the 3:00 minute mark the keys take on a melodic twist and settle things for a pretty sweet guitar solo. To sum things up this release is a great addition to the collection. Mike Browning and company have done a great job with “Paradox” in continuing where “The Key” and “Thresholds” left off. The musical creativity is there and the musicianship is on point. Hopefully this is not a one-off album and the band continues to issue out music and continue with the momentum (maybe a US tour). For more info: www.facebook.com/nocturnusad, www.profoundlorerecords.com

Jaime Pérez

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NOCTURNUS AD
NOCTURNUS AD
Paradox
(Profound Lore Records)
52:12min

Trying not to behave like an enthusiast teen fanboy or a groveling sycophant with this album is not easy. Seriously, how to review an album so anticipated, featuring the drumming talents and mastermind of one Mike Browning, a man who actually made Metal history happen when, along with a handful of insane individuals, almost single-handed gave birth to the so-called “Florida Death Metal”? Yes,that was one long question, but you get my point, I hope. I will try to do my best, anyway. To the music we go. Fierce, dynamic and relentless, this album is a lesson in Death Metal by the numbers. All the usual elements are here, with a weird twist into them. The tools of the trade are being handed by skillful, master craftsmen of the genre, all of them with many a band on their résume. The songs are surprisingly catchy, something that older bands are still capable to achieve after all these years, and the seasoned, veteran that is Mike Browning delivers his vocals rather well for a 55-year old Death Metal worker (see what I did there?). I am sure that he wants his lyrics to be heard and easily understood by any person decently fluent in the English language, taking us on a journey to the times when lyrics actually mattered and were as important as the music. Each track is a grandiose opus of dark, fast and eerie Death Metal, with standouts such as the thunderous ‘Paleolithic’, the almost psychedelic ‘The Antechamber’, the narrative ‘The Bandar Sign’ and the mystic ‘Precession Of The Equinoxes’ with the trademark that is the uncanny moods and additional atmosphere provided by the synth, keyboards and sound effects we all love about this band. Yes, sometimes it gets a little too weird like in the previously mentioned ‘The Antechamber’ or ‘Aeon Of The Ancient Ones’ - which, by the way, is as epic as you can imagine, but that is their trademark after all. And the majestic instrumental ‘Number 9’ as the closing track for the album was a wise choice, because you are left behind wanting more and more. Worshippers of the old cult, heed the call! Let us present this album as an unholy offering to the gods of the underground; your invigorated blood will pump through your veins with renewed strength, your sinews and muscles will tighten for battle, and your thirst for Metal will always be unquenchable! Word of advice: if you are new into the darker side of Metal and you happen to read this review with no previous knowledge of the band, you might as well give it a try. And if the keyboards, double bass drums, razor-sharp riffs and tremolos thrown here and there for good effect that you will hear on the first 40 seconds of the opening song fail to mesmerize you, or the impending vocals bursting out with blasphemous verses are not enough to hook you up, I suggest you give up Metal, effective immediately. Seriously. You will be better and we will do just fine without you. www.facebook.com/nocturnusad, www.profoundlorerecords.com

Daniel Melendez

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NOCTURNUS AD
NOCTURNUS AD
Paradox
(Profound Lore Records)
52:12min

NOCTURNUS was formed in 1987, with Mike Browning (ex - INCUBUS, ex - MORBID ANGEL), Richard Bateman (ex - PURGATORY, ex - INCUBUS) and Gino Marino (ex - INCUBUS) as core members. Their first demo already showed an different approach to Death Metal. But their second demo tape, "The Science Of Horror", was a huge step for the band. They started using horror Sci-Fi lyrical themes and keyboards. Nowadays it may not seem much, but back then no other Death Metal band had taken such a risk and also, do it successfully. They released two great albums with more or less the same line-up. Right after that, Browning was fired from his own band and the other guys continued until 1993, when they split-up. In the middle of 1999, Browning, Bateman and Marino reformed as NOCTURNUS AD. The name of the band was changed to AFTER DEATH due to copyright issues and they released a bunch of demos. Fast forward to 2013 and NOCTURNUS AD reformed (again) with the same line up of AFTER DEATH. Just a bit confusing right? Well, I just wanted to put things in context with a little bio. Because NOCTURNUS AD has just released "Paradox", their debut album under that banner, courtesy of Profound Lore Records. And in my humble opinion, the band and its original sound hasn't been affected by time and / or member changes whatsoever. Browning has kept true to his vision and he has assembled a line-up that delivered one hell of an album. Production wise, this is simply a tad more polished, late 90's "Floridian sound". I dig the organic sound of the instruments. The keyboards bring lots of moods and different scenes. They have an cinematic quality so to speak. Add up the already interesting song structures and tempo changes, piercing leads, brilliant riff variation and a solid and technical rhythm section and you got yourself a revamped and relentless new version of good old NOCTURNUS. Browning's vocals are great. I always thought they set the band apart. His snarling, almost theatrical grunts, have a lot of personality. And now he is also using a deeper growl for some parts. The mix is really good, giving all the instruments their spot and specially, using the right amount of keyboards so not to drown everything else. And I like the fact that the album has a lot of headroom. The compression has been used sparingly and that alone lets the music breath a lot more than the saturated, brick walled, overproduced stuff that is out there. I mean, the recording has some modern qualities, but none that will prevent you from enjoying a great collection of songs. And cloking at 52 minutes, believe me, you need a lot of variation to keep the listener bound to that stereo. Luckily, "Paradox" is proof that even today, good music can do just that. All in all, what I enjoyed the most is how all those elements combine into a magnificent and dark atmosphere. As stated above, this is one hell of an album and a great addition to the legacy of NOCTURNUS. I would've like to have a little more aggression when it comes to the performances since they feel a bit stale from time to time. But that is just me. Other than that, everything is right on point! So yeah, if you are a fan of NOCTURNUS / AFTER DEATH's early works and / or if you are a fan of high quality Death Metal, do yourself a favor and go get this album NOW and thank me later. You can support the band here: www.facebook.com/nocturnusad. Get their album from their label here: www.profoundlorerecords.com

Alfonso Perez

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NOCTURNUS AD
NOCTURNUS AD
Paradox
(Profound Lore Records)
52:12min

Florida: what a fantastic place! It was the fatherland of Death Metal 30 years ago and it still is. I've been listening to Floridian Death Metal since early '90s and it's great to see how this scene is still a heavyweight in the Metal underground. Three of my favourite albums of the last few months come from Florida and mark the continuity of three legendary bands, specifically: TERRORIZER "Caustic Attack", MONSTROSITY "The Passage Of Existence" and NOCTURNUS AD "Paradox". If I had no doubt about TERRORIZER and MONSTROSITY, I have to say that NOCTURNUS AD has been a fantastic surprise, because I never would have expected such a killer comeback from them. The new album "Paradox" contains nine songs for almost 53 minutes of outstanding sci-fi technical Death Metal in the purest tradition of the classic NOCTURNUS' masterpieces "The Key" and "Thresholds", as well as the very interesting studio sessions of Mike Browning's most recent creature AFTER DEATH. If "Paradox" is not revolutionary and seminal as its predecessors, it is for sure a breath of fresh air in the nowadays scene. On a technical level this is a superb work, able to keep the spirit of "The Key" alive, but with a more brutal approach. The songwriting is very intricated, but it never gets boring nor degenerates into a complexity for its own sake. So, this album is progressive and brutal, it is technically excellent and with an old school touch: all at the same time! The line-up is formed by the veteran Mike Browning along with Josh Holdren (keyboards) and three ex - members from AFTER DEATH: Daniel Tucker (bass), Belial Koblak and Demian Heftel (guitars). Each instrument is very well played, precise and accurate with tons of fantastic arrangements that fit perfectly with the synth and the sci-fi / cosmic effects. I'll be honest, I can't bear the use of keyboards in extreme Metal, but this band is a totally different story. The keys give a touch of dark, occult, apocalyptic and horrific evilness, without which NOCTURNUS wouldn't be a cult and mythic name as it rightly is. Here we have a top quality performance from each member of the band. Belial and Demian offer us tons of twisted and technical riffs, alternated with some very intense guitar solos. Mike's drumming was killer 28 years ago and has improved greatly over time: a mechanical double bass and a well reasoned used of toms and cymbals ensure an accurate wall of sound both in the slow plarts and in the mid tempos. Something new compared to the previous albums is the massive use of blastbeats, that enriches the whole album in terms of brutality and chaotic violence. The vocals are in the typical NOCTURNUS' vein, i.e. a raspy voice pretty reminiscent of early MORBID ANGEL and DEATH. The sound is not overproduced and have a genuine old school atmosphere. The themes dealt are the same used in the past: sci-fi, Lovecraftian horror, occult and anti-christianity. What else to say? This is an instant classic. Thanks to Profound Lore Records for releasing this masterpiece. "Paradox" is a descent into the unknown; it would be the perfect soundtrack for some cult sci-fi / horror movies from the '80s such as "Alien", "The Thing" and "Galaxy Of Terror". If you're into a cyborg that drives back to the past in order to kill Jesus Christ, well, this album is perfect for you! If you're into progressive music, buy it! If you're into old school and extreme Metal, this is pure gold! And, most important of all, if you're into Death Metal, NOCTURNUS AD is a living example of how the ancient gods of the genre are still the best investment, musically and in terms of know-how. www.facebook.com/nocturnusad, www.profoundlorerecords.com

Rick Peart

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