Abaddon magazine

Music magazine

Monday, September 26, 2022

Review: Nocturnal Graves – An Outlaw’s Stand

Label: Season of Mist Underground Activists

Date: January 7th, 2022

Back when the proverbial volcano erupted in Australia, pouring scalding waves of lava, aptly dubbed “war metal”, Nocturnal Graves were among the hottest examples. The whole (under)world was quick to turn their heads to the land down under. And then, as it ever happens, the whole flood happened, extinguishing the flame with the heaps of mediocrity riding the bandwagon.

Still, as it also ever happens, especially when the genre is such an unrelenting force that cannot quite materialize a massive profit, it all faded away. We were left with a selected few. With Nocturnal Graves highly ranked among them.

Meanwhile, they’ve managed the fourth full length. A massive feat considering the strict policies of the Aussie government during the pandemic. Even more so when you take into account that “An Outlaw’s Stand” is such a good record.

To be honest, I didn’t think so after the first two auditions. At first I found it monotonous and bland. As it turns out, it was probably just my mood for the day. Today, this album sounds real good.

You do know what the coined term “war metal” stands for, right? It’s that combination of extreme metal genres with added depth and ferocity. Old death metal, old thrash metal and old black metal. Bands such as Possessed, Venom, Hellhammer, Sodom… All mixed into one. Beastly wrath combined with gloomy atmosphere. Shortly explained.

Now, most representatives of the genre saw it as an opportunity to perform music which, primitive in its essence, doesn’t take too much skill. As a part of the mentioned selected few, Nocturnal Graves looked beyond that and delved into the core of this style of music. It’s not about being a lazy punk. It’s not about abusing what the old-timers did back in the 1980’s. It takes a whole lot of effort and imagination to succeed in creating something worthy out of simple elements.

This quartet has fine riffs. Meaningful solos. Strong rhythms. Enraged vocals. Take them apart, they will sound fairly simple to play. Merging them together into a homogenous whole is where it gets complicated. Making this whole sound like “An Outlaw’s Stand”, including the perfectly balanced production and a masterfully executed artwork, is a huge thing.

The record is catchy enough. It carries a lot of strength, weight, rage… It is simple, but never minimalistic. It is raw, but never primitive. Primal energy is preserved and unleashed without remorse upon the listener.

And just when you, dear reader, think this is likely the perfect “war metal” album… It’s not all that excellent. I could do with a bit more in the lyrics department. These are just a tad too “easy”, in my ear. Some solutions used in the composition phase could use a bit more work. Transitions from one to another segment, on occasion, are not perfectly flowing. Of course, there’s the “small matter” of personal taste which will surely deter some metalheads from Nocturnal Graves. Not everyone enjoys this type of music. But that will not bother the guys.

Nor should my other remarks. I’m sure they are pretty satisfied with what they’ve published. And so am I. “Not great, not terrible”, but the nuclear devastation happened anyway.