Noctambulist – Atmospheres of Desolation

Band: Noctambulist
Title: Atmospheres of Desolation
Label: Blood Harvest Records
Release Date: 21 January 2019
Country: United States
Format reviewed: MP3 320kb

It’s safe to say that in the past few years death metal had some sort of renaissance with a lot of promising bands that either went back to the origins of the genre, like Tomb Mold, Scorched, Skullcrush, Undergang, or tried to crush boundaries and show us a new meaning of the word extreme, a movement that includes bands like Mylingar, Hissing or Howls of Ebb. Also part of the latter category is NOCTAMBULIST, a band from Denver, that plays some twisted, dissonant and demented death metal.

The band formed in 2016 and released their debut in January. Upon listening to the album it may seem a bit hard to believe this is only their first album. The musicianship is outstanding for such a young group. It’s true, the members were previously members of different bands, but it’s almost exclusively brutal death metal, which you definitely can hear strains of, but the album is not reduced to only that. It has complexity, it has an atmosphere and you can be certain it packs a punch.

“Atmospheres of Desolation” consists of six tracks, one being an intro, summing up to 27 minutes. The opener, “Dimming Light Illuminate”, takes it at a slow pace, being comprised of a few chords and minimalist percussion before transitioning to white noise accompanied by piercing vocals, but the second track begins a full-on assault. It feels nauseating, however, this should be considered a good thing. The drumming is like a raging storm determined to wreak havoc and shatter eardrums. The third track, “Atmospheres of Desolation” has almost the same pattern, although in the middle of it it has a bit of room to breathe, with a few seconds of clean guitar and a similar break is also found in the song “Denial of Autonomy”. A thing that is evident throughout the album is the fact that it is not guitar-centered, but rather the accent falls on the percussion and the vocals and they manage to make it engaging nonetheless.

Even so, I still have some issues with this record. First of all, the band’s sound is similar to Ulcerate. In my opinion, a bit too similar. They try to copy the formula that Ulcerate uses but they lack the complexity. It’s not as layered and it does not sound as massive as their influence does. Also, the songs are short for this style of death metal. When you want to make an atmospheric release, you have to let things sink in, without rushing them too much. 27 minutes of playtime is not enough for you to get the claustrophobic feeling they shoot for. The breaks I talked about don’t really help either. On a 5 minute song having a 30-second break and also 1 minute of feedback is excessive, especially when the average length of the song on the album is 4 minutes and 30 seconds. These elements help for building a solid ambiance, but you need to have intricate songs so the listener has something to explore and in this way you give the album a bigger replay value.

All in all, I can’t say “Atmospheres of Desolation” is not good. I found myself enjoying it more and more after every listen, despite its shortcomings. The prowess of the band is definitely there and I expect great things from them down on the path of their career. 7/10 Metal Gentleman

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