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Noctum - "Final Sacrifice" (CD)

Noctum - "Final Sacrifice" CD cover image

"Final Sacrifice" track listing:

1. Conflagration (5:35)
2. Liberty in Death (4:45)
3. Resurrected in Evil (4:03)
4. Deadly Connection (3:30)
5. Void of Emptiness (3:47)
6. The Revisit (7:25)
7. A Burning Will (5:27)
8. Temple of the Living Dead (5:16)
9. Azoth (7:00)

Reviewed by on November 14, 2013

"Noctum doesn’t present a shocking new landmark sound, but 'Final Sacrifice' is a fitting ode to many bands which did."

Sweden’s Noctum has returned with the sophomore release “Final Sacrifice,” one that has the band throwing its hat into the extremely crowded and muddied field of 70’s rock, doom, stoner doom and the hundreds of other subgenres added to the soup. With seemingly no end in sight, labels snatch up any band that resembles Sabbath or Zeppelin. How does a band compete with all of that, let alone a newer band?

I know bands abhor reviews where the author feels the need to compare and contrast with groups of like sound and they all want to be unique and groundbreaking. Noctum doesn’t present a shocking new landmark sound, but “Final Sacrifice” is a fitting ode to many bands which did. While not a replica of those acts, it takes the best of all and leaves its own mark that elevates it above the morass.

With that said, there is an answer to the age old question – “what do they sound like?” Noctum take the established sound of Sabbath and Blue Cheer, shake it up with a dash of Candlemass and a heavy dose of mid-paced Mercyful Fate, and add creepy-yet-phenomenal production values, along with a dose of horror to boot. What really sets the group apart from acts like Orchid or Scorpion Child is that Noctum doesn’t dwell 100% of the time to any one established sound. It’s a varied mélange of all of the above to create an interesting album that is neither cheap nor boring. The prevailing element that holds all of that together is the influence of Mercyful Fate, which is evident in the albums best tracks “Void of Empitness” (the opening riff eerily reminiscent of Fate's “Gypsy”), “Temple of the Living Dead” (the quickest number on the album) and “Resurrected in Evil.” Even though David Indelof’s vocals are vastly different, his low end style can meld perfectly with King’s in certain spots.

Influences aside, “Final Sacrifice” benefits from great writing and excellent musicianship. The “old school yet modern” production maintains the creep factor of the story line and the riffs are catchy around Indelof’s ghostly vocals. Other strong tracks include “Deadly Connection,” “Liberty in Death,” and the epic closer “Azoth” (with a twin guitar part quite Maiden-esque). All the styles and tracks mesh very well and the album has a nice arrangement that ebbs and flows with enough forward motion to keep listeners attentive. The hidden gems are the incredible solos strewn throughout.

It certainly isn’t for a lack of creativity or originality, but the thing that stands in Noctum’s way of total separation is convincing enough fans that the group is not simply one of the literally hundreds of “dated” bands that many labels are pushing these days. Critics need to take careful consideration of what “Final Sacrifice” presents without casting it off to be crushed by the bass strums of 70’s production. Noctum has found a niche, albeit one that may be easily confused with other similar acts. By giving this a try, the combination of 70’s rock with Mercyful Fate’s traditional metal captured in rich songwriting, creepy storytelling, and whaling solos will make you forget about the rest.

Highs: Noctum carves a niche of a saturated genre with a dose of Mercyful Fate.

Lows: Fans who have grown tired of 70's rehash will turn a blind eye.

Bottom line: Noctum presents a "Final Sacrifice" that combines the best of 70's rock with Mercyful Fate.

Rated 3.5 out of 5 skulls
3.5 out of 5 skulls

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)