Band: Nocturnal Depression
Title: Tides of Despair
Label: Sun & Moon Records
Release date: 25 November 2019
Format reviewed: Digital Promo
Depressive Suicidal Black Metal is quite an interesting genre. One could say that all Black Metal is dark and melancholic, but this particular subgenre takes it to another level, fully embracing the depression, self-harm and suicidal thoughts, hence the name. 2019 saw the release of multiple sublime DSBM albums, among them the cold, sad tones of NONE‘s “Damp Chill of Life” and the weird, industrialized Depressive Metal of genre-greats BETHLEHEM. In the amount of quality releases of the year, sticking out of the pile can be hard…
NOCTURNAL DEPRESSION are a French DSBM project active since 2004, subsequently putting out eight full-length albums with a plethora of splits and EPs in between. Two years after their last album “Deathcade” they now return with another full-length, “Tides of Despair”, which will be out via Sun & Moon Records on November 25th. As said before, among the superb releases that 2019 brought us, it’s hard to stick out… Whether or not the French band manage to do just that is what I want to explain in this review!
The album opens with the 2-minute intro track “Drowning Myself”, building up atmosphere through ambience, the sounds of a shore or beach, as well as stringed instruments, most likely achieved through a keyboard and not actual instruments. The intro melody of the opener is turned into a riff, as the title track “Tides of Despair” is revealed. Distorted and lethargic guitars are the vessel for some truly melancholic riffing, which are further supported by some solid drumming and a prominent, very compelling bass. Further, the wretched, yet pretty classic Black Metal screams by vocalist Lord Lokhraed again communicate despair. The vocal performance gets increasingly tortured as the track progresses.
“Living in a Mass Grave” is the second track. Here is where some of my problems come in: The vocals seem a bit pressed out, not in a good way, and while the instrumentation is solid throughout, few of the riffs really stuck with me. Around the 5-minute mark, the track introduces a faster part, which I would generally describe as the best part of the song and a highlight of the record. “Solitude and Despair Again” begins with a guitar-only section that takes up half of the tracks runtime. It communicates the concept of the songs title really well, feeling sad and lonely, yet not like something terribly new. It rather conveys somewhat of a bleak outlook at an everyday routine of despair and crippling seclusion. Around the halfway point, the strongest riff yet is revealed, over top of which Lord Lokhraed offers his most ranged vocal performance of the album up to this point, utilizing various tortured screams.
“Slit my Wrists” carries a very urgent sound, almost as if the track itself is pushing you into self-harm or suicide. The later, slower and more lethargic parts really convey the intensity of the act of self-harm, as morbid as this may sound. While the beginning was more about the contemplation, the slow, heavy part are clearly symbolizing the act itself here… Where “Farewell Letter” reintroduces the string-ambience of the intro track, “Muse of Suicide” adds sharp sounding keys as a background element, something new, something needed. The higher, pained screams on here, which I enjoyed a lot, are in my opinion the best vocals on the album. Some of the riffs here are driving, others were sadly a bit too generic for my taste. “Reveries” closes the album with the return of the shore-like ambience of the intro track, as well as some keyboard and bass, yet overall it leaves something to be desired and lacks a truly climactic feel.
So, does “Tides of Despair” manage to stick out of the previously mentioned pile? Well… Yes and no, there are some elements I really enjoyed, as outlined above, but between those highlights mentioned, I found myself pretty bored at points, which sadly take up some space on this album, which is one of the reasons I wrote so little about the later tracks… This is clearly not what an album should do and thus it prevents me from fully enjoying it. I would say this new record has some things going for it and is overall a solid release, but in comparison to other DSBM albums, it is simply overshadowed. 5/10 the trve Medvson
5/10 Floating in the sea of mediocrity
**Please support the underground! It’s vital to the future of our genre.**