Noctum – Final Sacrifice

Noctum - Final Sacrifice (Metal Blade, 2013)It’s no mistake that Noctum’s Final Sacrifice is released Halloween week. The album consists of a loosely coherent horror tale that perfectly fits the macabre holiday season. More bands should do this!

The Metal Blade label is on a roll with their third great Swedish hard rock/metal release in a month after Horisont’s Time Warriors and In Solitude’s Sister. Noctum first appeared in Uppsala, Sweden in 2009 as Séance. The next year they changed their name and released their debut, Séance, sporting 70’s proto-metal and doom influences like Pentagram and contemporaries Witchcraft, from whom they got their new drummer Fredrik Jansson (also a veteran of Count Raven and Abramis Brama). Their sound has evolved on their second album with David Indelöf expanding his vocals to a higher range, and inserting speedier guitar riffs, going with a decidedly more heavier, darker metal direction than countrymen Witchcraft and Graveyard.

“Conflageration” kicks off with a nicely threatening guitar line that promises impending doom for the narrator/hero/monster. “An empty chalice cries for blood” along with some more of those tasty guitar licks! I wrote recently that In Solitude’s doom-goth more effectively poses the menace that the latest Ghost album failed to accomplish. With “Liberty In Death,” Noctum presents another potential facet with truly evil whup-ass riffs.  “Resurrected In Evil” brings to mind some of the lyrical themes in Iron Maiden’s Powerslave, an album that perfectly soundtracked my Halloween 29 bloody-hell-freakin’ years ago. Noctum’s storytelling is more oblique and open to different interpretations. Also like Maiden, Noctum pull off an instrumental, “Deadly Connection” in a crisp 3:30 without boring me even a second.

“Void Of Emptiness” is another album highlight, at least musically, with a galloping tempo giving way to some fierce solos. However here the narrator is eagerly awaiting sacrifice, when I thought they’d already been dead. I guess this lil’ devil with a Christ complex has more than one life to give, yo-yoing between realms. “The Revisit” is deliciously eerie and plodding, and even incorporates a flute with no negative repercussions to the memorable riffs and melodic choruses. This album has an abundance of catchy melodies, and is turning out to be one hell of a quality metal album. Normally this would be the point where you’d come across some filler, but no, “A Burning Will” is full of killer riff after riff, and a nimble vocal hook. “Temple Of The Living Dead” is, amazingly, yet another high point, digging deep with still more inventive guitar lines, augmented by great tempo changes. That’s the shit.

The final seven minute closer “Azoth” summarizes Noctum’s bag of tricks ‘n’ treats. And by the way, the joke’s on all you motherfuckers who thought this dude was your savior. You’ve just unleashed the vengeful Cthulu-ish alien/demon god Azoth. Enjoy your Mars bars and eternal enslavement.

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