|Review: Nokturnal Mortum - Goat Horns|
Label: The End Records
Year released: 2005
Originally released in: 1997
Genre: Black Metal
Review online: May 14, 2011
Reviewed by: Bruce Dragonchaser
For a band strongly associated with the NS movement, Nokturnal Mortum have a very melodic sound, one that is unique and strangely beautiful. Though they would go on to expose their folk tendencies with later works, their full-length debut from 1997, the much lauded Goat Horns, is a slick symphonic album of keyboard-heavy Black Metal that isn't unlike early Dimmu Borgir or Emperor, though features the kind of fantasy-drenched passages common with late nineties Power Metal bands that all wanted to be Rhapsody. In fact, opening instrumental "Black Moon Overture" could be introducing any album by Dark Moor or Holy Knights, and throughout the album the keys are sweet and fancy, not fitting with the grim Black Metal staple at all. Strange, really, as these guys are often feared out there in the world of commercial metal.
The production here is an odd job; low-fi guitars with crystal clear keyboards, 80s metal drums (with a lot of straight double kicks and not a lot of blasting), acoustic guitars that could have come from some prog-rock album, and vocals that rasp just beyond the mic, like wind across a mountain plain. Knjaz Varggoth actually does a good job with the vocals here, producing some strangely catchy melodies during "Veles' Scrolls" and a number of other tracks. The title cut is the best by miles, building from an epic intro into a startlingly catchy and cool mid section that features the best keyboard melody on here (this is a moment of genius). Only problem is there isn't enough variation, and after a while the album starts to sound like one long wash of color. Fans of the band will recognize this as a good starting point, and those who want an underground experience without the intense darkness of say, Graven or Sargeist, will like this a lot. Goat Horns isn't spectacular, but it does smell of greatness to come.
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