Noctem - Oblivion
As far as the more extreme subgenres of metal are concerned, I find myself attracted most to those who do not end up confined to a single style. You can call it progressive, but I don't think the term fits. "Diverse" is a more proper description. Spain's Noctem are certainly that, with their blackened death/thrash assault culling the best of a variety of extreme outlets to produce a solid, if somewhat underwhelming album, Oblivion.
"Popol Vuh" is an extremely menacing introduction, setting the proper tone in grand fashion. "The Arrival Of The False Gods" is a great first taste of what Noctem are all about; blistering, high-speed percussion, a duality of growled/screamed vocals that are of the most top of top notch, and a guitar attack that that is heavy on solid riffage. The ultimate result lies somewhere between Behemoth, Cradle of Filth and a variety of other extreme metal acts. Other prominent tracks include "Invictus", "Unredemption", "A Borning Winged Snake" and, really, the entire back-half of the album offers more than the first. Somewhere in the middle things get a little clogged up, but there isn't a truly bad track in the mix.
What inevitably keeps my opinion of Oblivion down, though, is that I feel as if I've heard it all before too many times to be all that impressed. Strictly a personal thing, however. It is an excellent record regardless, one any fan of extreme metal can take something from. In fact, there's enough substance and polish on Oblivion to see Noctem touted as one of the best of this year's metal outputs. You be the judge.
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