NOCTURNUS AD
Unicursal
(Profound Lore Records)
59:11min

The new NOCTURNUS AD is finally here and I cannot believe it! “Paradox” was the return to true form by Mike Browning after spending some time with AFTER DEATH. “Paradox” spiritually left off where “The Key” ended and “The Key” is in my top 10 favourite albums of all time. Needless to say both the Mike’s, Davis and Browning, are once in a lifetime duo who propelled NOCTURNUS to its glory. However, Mike Browning is literally a beacon in the technical Death Metal world. The excellent “Paradox” is just as focussed 30 years later and I can go on and on about that album, but today we discuss “Unicursal”, the worthy successor to “Paradox”. I won’t lie but my hopes for “Unicursal” have been incredibly high and NOCTURNUS AD have met all my hopes, in fact they broke right through in some areas. Right from the opener ‘Intro’ where the band establishes their traditional astral charm of entwining delightful melody with war-marching drumming and bright lights in the sky, NOCTURNUS AD jump right into it with ‘The Ascension Throne Of Osiris’. This is as technically traditional NOCTURNUS AD can get, but we’re not here for that are we? The band manages to step up their already brilliant songwriting with blitzkrieg like fretwork that leaves you suffocated. The vocals sound just as they always did, appropriate and sharp! The drumming however fits in beautifully, with stellar cymbal work, balanced with in-your-face rampage of the instrument. The keyboards build throughout in the background and gracefully step back as and when the guitar pushes into overdrive with face-melting melodic solos. What an absolute pleasure to listen to this! “Altars Of Madness” was released three decades ago and it’s been 29 years since “The Key” was released and Mike Browning shows no signs of wear and tear. I sincerely hope they schedule a tour and come to Toronto or I might as well go to New York to see them. We’ve all already heard track # 2 ‘CephaloGod’ which opens with a pleasurable Borg soundtrack and immediately drowns you into unforgiving riffs that carry the entire song without breaking sweat. This is where we see the keyboards in all their glory. This is such a fine balance in songwriting that you simply surrender to the wall of sound. The solo simply elevates the beauty created by the band. I know this doesn’t sound like a typical technical Death Metal review but NOCTURNUS AD isn’t your typical technical Death Metal band. They are the innovators that brought together legions of fans under the umbrella of a unique sonic experience, an experience where you simply give in to their creativity. Most of the songs follow your generic songwriting style, but it is the content within that sets NOCTURNUS AD apart. The ending solo on ‘CephaloGod’ is just massive that you’d be deceived into thinking has hit the roof, but it is just a momentary plateau for the band. Remember the track ‘Paleolithic’ from “Paradox”? We’ve got its successor on “Unicursal” with ‘Mesolithic’. The intro sounds right off the stone age with what appears to be a group of drummers in a circle mentally ascending to the skies. I don’t get it, how does this band get everything right? This is surely a lesson or rather a study in what Metal music could be in 2024, it’s like visualizing the roots of a banyan tree, stretching all across with no certain patterns yet clutching to earth with all its might. NOCTURNUS AD conjures images of the celestial, coupled with the epitome of human expression, without breaking a sweat. The band never repeats ideas across their album, rather they try to approach every single idea as an entire unit. ‘Mesolithic’ is such a fine example where your traditional time scale is thrown out the window. The delicate cymbal work touches the edges of the skies, while the guitars run through open fields with every corner reaching a crescendo. The vocals add the final layer to the brutality brought together by the band. I absolutely need to mention the personnel on the album, “Unicursal” features the forever young Mike Browning, along with guitarists Belial Koblak and Demian Heftel. Josh Holdren is the keyboardist and the new bassist of the band is Kyle Sokol. The bass on “Unicursal” was performed by now ex – bassist Daniel Tucker. These gentlemen together have effectively fortified their niche through “Unicursal”. Spiritually, the album is split as two parts. The first part focussing on ancient themes and the second part focussing on Dr. Magus’s story. Honestly as great as all of that is, I’m just lost in the phenomenal songs on this album. To me the cover art is the focal point in communicating the message of Dr. Magus and I’m fine with that. Every single aspect on this album shines bright, each instrument is given the breath, ‘Mission Malkuth’ is another such a fine example where the keyboards take us into the cosmos and the guitars follow immediately to transition us into a different frequency within the same journey. The production is on point, it hits the perfect balance between all the complexity of instrumentation, while not sacrificing the aggressiveness. Absolutely brilliant! Is this an early contender for album of the year? Yes! There are no two ways about this. NOCTURNUS AD has hit it out of the park, technically the galaxy! Kudos to Profound Lore for honoring the vision of the band. Highly recommended! You need to listen to “Unicursal”, period! For more information, please visit www.facebook.com/nocturnusad, www.facebook.com/profoundlorerecords

Vamsi Kanagovi

Vamsi Kanagovi

Related reviews / interviews:
NOCTURNUS AD - Paradox (Thomas Meyer)
NOCTURNUS AD - Paradox (Mirco Szymyslik)
NOCTURNUS AD - Paradox (Jaime Pérez)
NOCTURNUS AD - Paradox (Daniel Melendez)
NOCTURNUS AD - Paradox (Alfonso Perez)
NOCTURNUS AD - Paradox (Rick Peart)
NOCTURNUS AD - Interview (Steven Willems)

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