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  • Nocturnus - The Key

    Nocturnus - The Key
    1990 Earache Records


Nocturnus - The Key

1990 Earache Records :: Reviewed by rofreason on 2005-09-12

Death Metal with Keyboards...

And for some, maybe most of you, that's all that you need to read before you move on. But of course, if you do, you'd be making the same mistake I made back in 1991.

That one phrase, death metal with keyboards, was something that pretty much sunk this incredibly artful band down the want lists of die-hard metalheads. We just weren't ready for it, and the one two punch of keybaords AND a singing drummer were the kiss of death for a lot of us. There were so many things we just weren't ready for back then that we never gave it a chance, and it wasn't until years later that I bought this gem on CD and realized as pretty much everyone else does now, that this was a band waaay ahead of their time on all levels.

It didn't help that the production isn't that great, and that I had a promo tape copy way back when. That combination made hearing the nuances impossible, and everything just sped by me like a death metal soup, with keyboards of course. Having the CD greatly enhances the listenability, and allows me to hear what was really groundbreaking stuff in the world of death metal. First, off, the guitar work is godly. So godly that Trey of Morbid Angel evidently held Mike Smith in very high regard, and that says something right there. Mike Browning was also in Morbid Angel and it shows in both his drumming and guttural grunting vocal style. So these guys can play, and play they do. It's almost as if they are reaching beyond their vast abilities, so the ultra fast techinical death metal (with keyboards almost runs away from the band at times, but the end result is a mind blowing album which descended from the far reaches of the universe to bogle and close our minds for years. Just look at the cover artwork and you can imagine what's going on here, blazingly technical offtime death metal with moody keyboard inflections. This ain't no Dream Theater or Children of Bodom, this was some ugly, scary shit created by guys that were just playing their asses off. I still listen to this album with a sense of detachment, in awe but not yet in understanding, quick bursts of guitar solos coming from all directions over a steady pace of fast double bass...

And when it's said and done, Nocturnus now get the respect for the technicality of their music and their originality as well. These first two albums are a must for anyone looking for some of the most technical metal out there. Don't be afraid.