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Nokturnal Mortum - "The Voice of Steel" (CD)

Nokturnal Mortum - "The Voice of Steel" CD cover image

"The Voice of Steel" track listing:

1. Intro (3:05)
2. Voice of Steel (9:54)
3. Valkyrie (10:47)
4. Ukraine (8:24)
5. My Dream Islands (11:47)
6. By Path of the Sun (9:06)
7. Sky of Saddened Nights (4:50)
8. White Tower (11:48)

Reviewed by on April 21, 2010

"With a much more mature sound, Nokturnal Mortum’s latest is an awe-inspiring piece of work."

Nokturnal Mortum is a band that has generated a lot of controversy in the metal scene. Like most black metal bands, they hold a steadfast and vehement stance against anything related to Christianity. While this may be the source of some of the conflict, Nokturnal Mortum is fascinated with another ideology that would potentially piss off the most dedicated against anything Christian: this band is distinctly sided with right-wing Aryanism and National Socialism. I’ve heard this band described as everything from “incredible” to “Nazi trash.”

Be that as it may, their latest, “Voice of Steel,” is a considerable departure from their typical sound. For sticking so long to a particular sound, especially in the heavy use of near-cheesy synth work, the band’s departure to the sound on this album very well may be the most controversial thing Nokturnal Mortum has done.

Compared to their earlier releases, “The Voice of Steel” utilizes a much cleaner and fuller sound; the band has seriously boosted the production quality on this one. Masterfully weaving a folk sound into fairly raw black metal guitar work, it’s apparent that the band was focused on making their latest as epic as possible. Unlike a lot of other folky bands, Nokturnal Mortum pulls this off in a big way.

Without a single moment on this album feeling wasted, “Voice of Steel” is an album that has me entranced from beginning to end on every listen. Every track is composed brilliantly and does rely on the guitar to drive it. The guitar work is fairly simple; the band relies on the interplay of the riffs and the folk sound to create a very unique sound unheard anywhere else. The mesh of the folk sound into black metal traditions don’t quite take this band into straight folk metal territory, but labels aside, the sound is simply brilliant.

The title track is a mid-paced track that picks up later in the song and features a great solo that almost has a thrash feel. “Valkyrie” is by far my favorite track on the album. It starts out fast and contains an awesome solo in the middle that has an unusual bluesy tinge. It’s the first track on the album that really showcases the versatility that Nokturnal Mortum has brought to this album. Clocking in at just over ten minutes long, it’s definitely not a short track, but because of the band’s masterful composing skills, I could listen (and have listened) to this track over and over again.

“Ukraine” is an epic ode to the band’s homeland and uses beautiful clean vocals and choral chanting. “My Dream Islands” bears a fitting title due to the use of dreamy synth work. “Sky of Saddened Nights” features great flute and acoustic guitar work, as well as some of the most caustic and engaging drum work on the album.

“The Voice of Steel” is indeed a significant departure from the band’s earlier work. While this may alienate long time fans, the sound here is breathtaking enough that it really shouldn’t. With a much more mature sound, Nokturnal Mortum’s latest is an awe-inspiring piece of work. Every bit of this album is well-filled; absolutely no filler material is present here. This album is sweeping and majestic and can only recommend it whole-heartedly.

Highs: Stunning, powerful black metal that is brilliantly composed.

Lows: Longtime fans may have a hard time digesting this.

Bottom line: With a brand new sound, Nokturnal Mortum has created an epic masterpiece.

Rated 5 out of 5 skulls
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)