May 2018 sees the return of Melbourne’s extreme metal titans (excuse the pun) Nocturnal Graves. On Titan, their third full length, Nocturnal Graves seek to find the very point where the oft-linked genres of thrash, black, and death metal converge and mutate.
Comprising veterans of the Melbourne/greater Australian extreme metal scenes, they’re well suited to such a task. Do they succeed in this endeavour? This reviewer aims to find out.
An echoing drum beat welcomes listeners to the fierce ‘Resistance’ which opens the album. Combining an assault of blasting drumming and jagged guitar lines, raspy vocals and a solid lead guitar phrase are soon introduced. From the outset, Nocturnal Graves’ keen eye for focus can be ascertained, as ‘Resistance’ delivers a blend of harsh black metal and cavernous death metal. A solid way to open the album.
‘Roar of the Wild’ promptly ups both the tempo and intensity. This track is solid old-school thrash, albeit filtered through a blackened lens. Duelling leads and gang vocals accentuate the first half of the track, while the second half becomes an exercise in razor-sharp brutality; bridging from murky death metal, back to that neck-snapping thrash. Newer bands wanting to learn how to effectively utilise tempo changes should look no further for a masterclass.
‘Ecdysis, Shedding Weak Flesh’ is a veritable maelstrom of classic metal, and the aforementioned black/death influences. Band leader J.R. outlined the importance of melody in Nocturnal Graves’ music, some years ago. ‘Ecdysis’, for this reviewer highlights their ear for it. The track is melodic, but no less impactful because they know exactly when and how to use melody.
‘Souls Tribulation’ is another track that’ll be an impressive addition to the band’s live arsenal. It’s also an excellent display of the synergy that exists between the musicians in the band, with every instrument locked in and firing on all cylinders. Providing that perfect platform for the vocals to bring their characteristic raw aggression.
‘And Hell Followed Them’ finds Nocturnal Graves aiming to perfect their hellish blend of black, death, and thrash metal. Offering a relentless barrage on the senses, this track is clearly rooted in the halcyon days that Nocturnal Graves are attempting to evoke. Indeed, there’s violent bursts of some of that key Bestial Warlust/Blasphemy influence here. This track rips. It takes no prisoners.
‘Bow Before None’ sees the band settling into that frantic, manic pace that they’ve perfected over recent releases. An epic guitar solo is the focal point of the middle of this track. The band are talented arrangers, they know when to place solos and that was no exception; guitarists Shrapnel and Decaylust perfectly accentuating and highlighting the brutality of the track, before shifting briefly into a punishing downtempo spiral.
‘Silence the Martyrs’ begins with a frenetic guitar solo amid some solid blasting drums. This track is oppressively heavy, and the fact that they managed to keep such a track so fast-paced is no mean feat. Nocturnal Graves manage to conjure all the hallmarks of what makes a classic track, and set it ablaze. The perfect introduction to the title, and final track of the album.
‘Titan’ keeps that same oppressive heaviness, albeit the track is paced at a speed more fitting of classic death metal. It’s the perfect counterpoint to the preceding track, finds Nocturnal Graves ready and willing to destroy. The final track of the album, and perhaps the most brutal and accomplished. It would have been perfect in any spot on the album, but as a closer it’s magnificent.
On Titan Nocturnal Graves have sharpened and honed their songwriting and arrangement skills to craft what’s easily the best album they’ve produced so far. They understand that less is more, to the point that the album is not oversold with filler, instead it’s tightly packed with great material. The running time is long enough to enthral you, but short enough to keep you longing for their next release. I’d expect nothing less from these stalwarts of the Melbourne scene.
- Roar of the Wild
- Ecdysis, Shedding Weak Flesh
- Souls Tribulation
- And Hell Followed Them
- Bow Before None
- Silence the Martyrs