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Nocturnalia - "Above Below Within" (CD)

Nocturnalia - "Above Below Within" CD cover image

"Above Below Within" track listing:

1. Vandringen 02:14
2. Within His Lies 04:51
3. The Watchman 04:31
4. Lady Of The Woods 07:35
5. Sing To Sleep My Soul 06:55
6. The Stone 05:24
7. Towards The End 07:30

Reviewed by on April 3, 2015

"The music is based more in bluesy classic rock than in anything extreme, and everything gets a hefty dose of psychedelic atmosphere that will make you thing of drug-fueled eras long gone."

There's a mighty big void in the occult rock world now that The Devil's Blood is gone, and since Ancient VVisdom won't have another album out for quite a long time, Nocturnalia is stepping in to fill that position, meshing together old school rock with psychedelia and occult themes. Formerly known as Nocturnal, the Swedish outfit's “Above Below Within” offering is one hell of a sonic journey that can be equally appreciated by fans of Deep Purple and Black Sabbath as by fans of modern metal.

While there might not be any black metal shrieks or blast beats, “Above Below Within” is occult metal in a more pure sense, going way back to the roots of the genre. The music is based more in bluesy classic rock than in anything extreme, and everything gets a hefty dose of psychedelic atmosphere that will make you thing of drug-fueled eras long gone.

The aforementioned comparisons to The Devil's Blood is actually a pretty good starting point to understanding Nocturnalia's sound, but frankly “Above Below Within” is more consistently interesting than “The Time Of No Time Evermore” or “The Thousandfold Epicentre.” Besides the extraneous opening piano track or the slightly out-of-place banjo and Native American drum beat combo at the end of “Sing To Sleep My Soul,” there's really no downtime on the album, even in the more calm passages.

Nocturnalia simply doesn't do filler, which is all the more impressive considering the song lengths are on the medium to longer end - most between five and seven minutes. In fact, longest track “Lady Of The Woods” is easily the highlight of the album, drawing the sound out for a long and satisfying build up and offering a more emotional take on the vocals. The track doesn't skimp on the psychedelia though, as that hits hard halfway through.

Paying homage to the classic roots of rock and metal, Nocturnalia's “Above Below Within” is a modern classic with entirely retro sensibilities. This one is a must-hear for fans of anything from Ghost to Led Zeppelin.

Highs: Excellent occult rock melded with psychedelic metal.

Lows: The opening piano track feels a bit unnecessary.

Bottom line: It may not be extreme metal, but this psychedelic, bluesy classic rock is well worth hearing!

Rated 4 out of 5 skulls
4 out of 5 skulls


Key
Rating Description
Rated 5 out of 5 skulls Perfection. (No discernable flaws; one of the reviewer's all-time favorites)
Rated 4.5 out of 5 skulls Near Perfection. (An instant classic with some minor imperfections)
Rated 4 out of 5 skulls Excellent. (An excellent effort worth picking up)
Rated 3.5 out of 5 skulls Good. (A good effort, worth checking out or picking up)
Rated 3 out of 5 skulls Decent. (A decent effort worth checking out if the style fits your tastes)
Rated 2.5 out of 5 skulls Average. (Nothing special; worth checking out if the style fits your taste)
Rated 2 out of 5 skulls Fair. (There is better metal out there)
< 2 skulls Pretty Bad. (Don't bother)