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Noctem Aeternus - Winter Spells

Noctem Aeternus
Winter Spells
by Justin "Witty City" Wittenmeier at 15 October 2018, 6:51 AM

“Winter Spells” is the first full length album, and third release overall, of this Argentine Black Metal band. What is it about one man Black Metal bands that makes all the ones I have heard kick blackened ass?  NOCTEM AETERNUS is yet another such band, blasting my ear drums to pieces with a straight shot of cold straight from the frozen tundra. “Winter Spells,” begins with intro/title track, featuring ominous sounds, ambient key tones, and cascading rains and the drops that follow.  It definitely invokes a picturesque image of some far off, arctic blasted land, forgotten in the annals of times. As the last drops fall and fade to black, the next track “Ahab,” begins.  The sound is definitely in the vein of Old School Black Metal, especially the vocals which are a high pitched screeching yell.  The overall atmosphere is as dark as the influences which spawned them but the difference here is the tone is more sorrowful and decidedly more built up by Gothic textures and melodies.  The clean guitar parts and spoken whispers about a quarter of the way thru are the hallmarks of said tropes.

However, “Winter Spells,” isn’t an album of just textures and layered atmosphere.  When called for, it does recall the ancient fury of Black Metal.  The fourth track, “Nocturnal Mantle,” is brought into a full speed sonic assault with extremely fast drums, with the snares hitting particularly hard. In between the stanzas of screams, the melodic riffs and keys create a swirl of harmony kept up by the double bass, creating a song that is at once both fast and furious but also layered with melancholic darkness, like any good Black Metal should contain. “Autumn Glare,” is a song with many dimensions.  The begging minute is clean music, the distortion replaced with the splattering of more rain fall.  The cymbals come from the background and the rest of the instruments crawl in behind it.  The guitars take more a slow dirge pace but the double bass is a constant attack on the senses.  Likewise, the vocals are very abrasive here, to go along with the drums, but also a stark contrast to the rest of the music but it all comes together in a package that is arresting in its beauty.

The centerpiece of the album is the fourteen minute long epic, “The Waning Moon Has Fallen.”  The start of the track is the audio version of the birth of a dark dimension.  The ambient sounds and keys grow and stretch their tendrils across time and space, creating terra firma for creatures to emerge and walk upon.   The first two minutes are classic Black Metal but at the 4:24 mark, everything goes dark, with just the smallest crack appearing to let dim light poke its way thru.  This passage has organ like keys, reminding me of early OLD MAN’s CHILD albums and also features the same arcane evil that moves in whispers.  The track drifts in and out of these violent mood swings until around the thirteen minute mark it all comes to a crippling head.

There are a few problems with the album but nothing major.  As with so much Black Metal, the production could use some more work.  Of course, this may have been done on purpose (as with so much Black Metal, ha) so that is more of a personal quibble than a true statement of fact so results will vary from listener to listener.  Also, despite the loaded atmosphere, when you get down to it there isn’t a whole lot of variety to the album.  Again, not every Black Metal band, due to the confines of the genre, are going to feature this so this also too is very much one person’s opinion. NOCTEM AETERNUS have made themselves a very good album for a debut full length, with their previous two EP’s serving as tasty appetizers for this full course Black Metal meal.  If you like old school sensibilities mixed with atmospheric textures, “Winter Spells” is an album that needs to go on your Black Metal list.

Songwriting: 8
Originality: 8
Memorability: 8
Production: 8

4 Star Rating

1. Winter Spells
2. Ahab
3. Bleeding Night
4. Nocturnal Mantle
5. Interlude in G minor
6. Autumn Glare
7. Diminishing Night
8. The Warning Moon Has Fallen
9. The Final Hill
Noctem Aeternus – All Instruments
Record Label: Naturmacht Productions


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Edited 30 November 2022

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