Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Nocturnal Fear - Absolute Annihilation is Imminent

At first glance, Nocturnal Fear may appear to be a typical Sodom rip-off trying their hand at creating some of their own war-themed thrash, but that is hardly the case. Sure, "Excessive Cruelty" has its fair share of Sodom worshiping, but for the most part, Nocturnal Fear retains their own sound. It's a sound that isn't really found much in the US nowadays though. This band draws most of their influence from the German masters, but adds a bit more intensity and death metal influence to create a more savage and assaulting sound than most newer thrash bands who tend to take after the bay area style. 

The music found here pushes the envelope at times, not travelling down an exact path as their forefathers. The most noticeable difference is the inclusion of keyboards. Luckily, the keyboard sections are not the driving force of the music and they only appear on a couple of occasions for atmospheric purposes. Another difference is the inclusion of some death metal riffs and tremolo passages, but other than that, this record is one hell of a brutal thrasher from start to finish. 

There really isn't a single attribute on "Excessive Cruelty" that stands out the most, and that is because everything is well done and syncs together nicely to create their sound. The riffs are great and only get better when accompanied by the thunderous drums and the relentless vocals, which sound like a great cross between Mille Petrozza (Kreator) and Darren Travis (Sadus). The songs "I Am War" and "Frozen in Stone" feature some amazing riffs that will surely cause some whiplash. The riffs are either heavy and crushing, causing uncontrollable headbanging (I Am War) or are ridiculously catchy and remain in the listener's head for a couple of hours (Frozen in Stone). You mix those riffs with the aforementioned pummeling drums and devastating vocals, and you have a recipe for success.

Despite the tremendous upside of this album, Nocturnal Fear was unable to create a perfect record. The biggest problem found here, is that "Excessive Cruelty" tends to suffer from excessive and unnecessary parts in the music. With each song averaging at about five minutes, there is definitely room to cut down on some tracks. An album as hard-hitting as this one should not be hitting the listener this long, as it decreases the impact. Songs like "Rolling Thunder" and "World War 3" seem to drag on and never really hit a catchy note. Had these songs been cleared of the excess, the tracks could have been much more impactful on the listener, instead of taking them on a dragged out journey of boredom. It's a little ironic that the two best tracks on this record ("I Am War" and "Frozen in Stone") are also the longest, but both of these tracks manage to keep the listener's attention with awesome riffs, tempo changes and sheer intensity, something the other tracks lacked. 

Aside from the issues with the length of certain tracks and the absence of anything memorable, "Excessive Cruelty" delivers a wicked shot of adrenaline capable of bringing out any metalhead's inner soldier and causing some absolute annihilation. The best tracks here are "I Am War," "Frozen in Stone" and "Absolute Annihilation."

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Final Rating - 4.2/5 or 84%.

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