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Noctem - 'Oblivion' (metalblade) 4.5/5

Black death thrashers Noctem hail from Valencia in Spain. Now in their 10th year they have in the past issued a couple of EPs, a self released live album and a previous studio opus on Austrian label Noisehead, before switching to Metalblade earlier this year and bringing us this rather tasty little nugget.

Now I gotta say that this album is one of the most interesting black / death / thrash / whatever (I'm not good at sub genres) albums I've had through in recent months. I had albums that are more extreme, I've had albums that have been heavier and more intense, but when it comes to the all around package this is the dogs bollocks.

There are 11 tracks on offer, each one as heavy as a chieftain tank, as metal as the Forth Bridge and as intense as playing chicken with a speeding freight train in a narrow tunnel. But what marks this album out above the crowd is the quality of the song writing and the way the tracks are structured.  Yes there is shed loads of pound, thrash and bludgeon of offer; but within the raw brutality there are shades of light and dark; tempo, riff and key changes that although often subtle, still serves to keep you interested and actively listening.

Style wise we are talking touches of early Slayer, hints of acts such as The English Dogs, Behemoth, Bathory and Rose Funeral; but there also bits, often short snatches that hat tip acts such as Megadeth, Armored Saint, even Iron Maiden style NWOBHM!!. Then we come to the playing, musically this album is flawless. The whole band is a tight as David Coverdales bell bottoms and certainly know how to lay down a wall of sonic battery. Special praise though must be given to the two guitarists, Exo and Helion, who show a great ablity to not only shred like a Frankenstein office paper disposal unit on the rampage, but also mange to lay down some superb melodic lead lines, sweet harmony sections and infectious lead licks, but also swap riffs like the good uns they are.

Special highlights of this impressive album include the strangely titled A Borning Winged Serpent with its wonderful guitar interplay and harmony lead sections, the brain meltingly brutal Seeking The Ruin Of Souls and the gloriously menacing Unredemption - track whose final riffing section is to die for. But in truth this album is one glorious highlight of the pure talent that is Noctem.

Bottom line is this is a great album and one I will not hesitate to recommend to metal fans everywhere.

For fans of... Glorior Belli, Behemoth, Novel of Sin, Slayer, Mercyful Fate.

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