NOCTURNUS AD — Paradox

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NOCTURNUS AD - Paradox cover
3.98 | 8 ratings | 3 reviews
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Album · 2019

Tracklist

1. Seizing the Throne (5:53)
2. The Bandar Sign (5:50)
3. Paleolithic (5:02)
4. Procession of the Equinoxes (4:35)
5. The Antechamber (6:26)
6. The Return of the Lost Key (7:46)
7. Apotheosis (6:17)
8. Aeon of the Ancient Ones (5:38)
9. Number 9 (4:42)

Total time 52:09

Line-up/Musicians

Mike Browning / Vocals, Drums
Daniel Tucker / Bass
Belial Koblak / Guitars
Demian Heftel / Guitars
Josh Holdren / Keyboards

About this release

Profound Lore Records, May 24th, 2019

Thanks to Vim Fuego for the addition and adg211288 for the updates

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NOCTURNUS AD PARADOX reviews

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siLLy puPPy
NOCTURNUS has always been the odd band out in the old school death metal world. Founded in the prolific Tampa scene era where early pioneers Deicide, Obituary and Death were breaking free from the thrash metal cocoon, this band led by Mike Browning formed after his stint with the early years of another Tampa legend, Morbid Angel. Right from the getgo Browning had a different vision for his new baby which meant jumping off the bandwagon of bloody and gory awe and heading to space for more sci-fi inspired themes. Along with this thematic shift so too did the musical direction. In 1988 the band added the unheard of instrument of keyboards to its death metal orotundity and by 1990 had created a unique specimen in the death metal universe with “The Key” which crafted a thematic journey of a cyborg traveling back in time to assassinate Jesus Christ terminator style! The album is a classic and a personal favorite as well.

The band squeaked out a second album, “Thresholds” before friction broke the band up however despite Browning founding NOCTURNUS, he hadn’t trademarked the brand name so his sneaky colleagues did so behind his back, kicked him out and continued on. They released one more album titled “Ethereal Tomb” in 2000 before the backlash forced them into retirement. The whole NOCTURNUS project had pretty much been assassinated just like poor JC in “The Key.” It’s fair to say that nobody ever expected a return to the early days when old school death metal was rampaging across the Floridian peninsula like Hurricane Andrew on a very bad day. Come 2013 and Earache Records decided to re-release “Thresholds” for the first time and when all was said and done Browning’s following band After Death began to play under the name NOCTURNUS on a Mexican tour as well as for Deathfest 2014 where they played “The Key” in its entirety. To avoid legal actions the band name was quickly changed to NOCTURNUS AD and that’s where this album comes in.

PARADOX pretty much picks up where “The Key” left off and makes good on all those squandered opportunities of what should have been only at the same timeline as the original. With all the evolutions in death metal over the past 30 years, it’s amazing that Browning could put together a worthy successor to the classic that has only gained more avid followers as time elapses. The band went as far as to record the album in full retro regalia down to the production. This truly sounds like it was recorded as the followup to the 1990 classic and even the theme is a continuation of the cyborg terminator run amok in a post-apocalyptic era. Even the AD part of the new moniker signifies a sequel to cover art’s instant wink and nod to the past glories. However despite insinuating “The Key Part 2,” this is really the band After Death under a new banner of allegiance. This band consists not only of Mike Browning on vocals and drum abuse duties but finds the twin guitar attack from Belial Koblak from bands like Acheron, Dethroned and Godless along with Demian Heftel from Brutality, Astaroth and Contorted. The bass duties are carried out by ex-Obituary member Daniel Tucker with keyboardist Josh Holdren adding all those spooky synth sounds and trippy intros.

Attempting a retro rehash of a classic like “The Key” is risky business for sure but given the unfair nature of being kicked out of your own band, it seems fans may be a tad sympathetic and willing to give this a chance at least it was the case for me. What i wasn’t expecting though is how well done and down right fun this album is. True that it shamelessly transports back to the 90s and recreates a near blueprint of “The Key” in every possible way but let’s keep a couple things in mind here. This IS an album about time travel and all so why the fuck not, however none of this would amount to a rat’s mangy ass if the album wasn’t really, really good and that it is. In a world where technical death metal has become as complex as some of the most demanding classical scores throughout history, it is refreshing to hear an album that simply cranks out the old school charm without crafting works so nebulous that it requires a few listens just to sink in.

PARADOX as good as it is does not match up to the original “The Key” but is much better than i ever could have hoped. With a tight cast of musical maestros who are more than competent on their respective instruments, the powerful bombast of the twin guitars, bass, drums and subtlety of the swirling synth lines conspire to create one of the most satisfying comeback albums of recent years. All the ingredients for a find retro death metal album are here in great abundance. The composiitons are all crafted to perfection and the riffs are memorable and best of all the variations are clever and laid out in such a way so that the album never becomes monotonous. While newer death metal albums are tending to go into more psychedelic arenas, NOCTURNUS AD returns to the brutal bombast of the no nonsense era with the extra keyboard elements adding all those cosmic touches that make this a spectacular release with pummeling energetic deliveries and a compelling example of picking up the pieces decades after everything fell apart. Will this band strike again? Hard to say if the band will leave this time and another name change is in order but in the meantime we got at least one album out of the NOCTURNUS AD brand name.
Warthur
Once upon a time there was Nocturnus, who put out a couple of really solid technical death metal albums in the form of The Key and Thresholds before original founder Mike Browning and the rest of the group. Then there was After Death, Mike's next group, which took its name from a song from The Key and allowed Mike to keep his hand in the game.

Now there's Nocturnus AD, After Death having evolved into the full-fledged Nocturnus successor group they'd always had the potential to be. With Nocturnus themselves having been broken up for over a decade, it seems reasonable enough to assume that if Browning's former comrades there had intended to do anything with the name, they'd have done it by now. As it is, the field is clear for Browning to reconfigure After Death to deliver his own vision for where Nocturnus might have gone under his own direction.

If the band name weren't enough of the clue, the cover art should give away what the angle is here: yes, this might not be called "The Key Part 2: Death Metal Boogaloo", but thematically and stylistically speaking it's pretty much following on the footsteps of the Nocturnus debut album. (Yes, the time-travelling killer robot is back, and this time it's hanging out with Cthulhu.)

It's another technical death metal tour de force from Browning, who once again acts as both drummer and lead vocalist. If his drumming is a little prominent in the mix, that's all to the good, because his drums sound absolutely superb without taking anything away from the rest of the band. Despite having added blast beats to his bag of tricks, he's largely working in a style close to that of The Key, and if you really enjoyed that album and want more of the same I'd say that this hits that mark closer than any of the subsequent Nocturnus or After Death releases ever did.
UMUR
"Paradox" is the debut full-length studio album by US, Florida based death metal act Nocturnus A.D.. The album was released through Profound Lore Records in May 2019. The original Nocturnus was founded in 1987 by lead vocalist/drummer Mike Browning after leaving Morbid Angel. Browning recorded two albums with Nocturnus in the early 90s, before he was fired from the band which led to an acrimonious battle over the Nocturnus name. A battle which Browning lost preventing him from releasing anything using the Nocturnus name. In 1999 Browning and two of the other original members of Nocturnus founded Nocturnus A.D., but soon changed the name to After Death, to avoid confusion with the then still active Nocturnus. In the years between 2000-2013 After Death released some demos, but didn´t get around to releasing any new studio material. In the meantime Nocturnus called it quits, and Browning decided to change the name of his band back to Nocturnus A.D.. With a lineup of new musicians (who joined the band in 2013 or later, one of them being former Xecutioner/Obituary bassist Daniel Tucker), Browning and the rest of the band were finally able to record and release "Paradox".

As far as I can see the album features new original material, and none of the demo material from the After Death days (if interested you can find that material compiled on the 2007 "Retronomicon" compilation album released under the After Death monicker). Instead Nocturnus A.D. have opted to release an album which sounds like it´s the lost album, which should have been released after Nocturnus debut album "The Key (1990)", reintroducing sci-fi elements and themes, which had otherwise been reduced in favor of more occult tinged lyrical themes, during the After Death days. On "Paradox" the sci-fi themes and the occult/anti-Christian themes are combined, just as the case was on "The Key (1990)".

It´s actually amazing how similar in sound and style "Paradox" is to "The Key (1990)" (the biggest difference is the presence of occasional blast beats on "Paradox") and it was pretty surely a conscious decision by the band to write material that fans of their debut album could instantly relate to. So the listener is treated to well played old school death metal, with nods toward technical/progressive death metal, featuring atmospheric and futuristic sounding keyboards, loads of fast shredding guitar solos, solid drumming (a bit "stiff" at times, but suiting the music well), and Browning´s raw barking growling vocals in front. I´m persionally not a huge fan of his voice and vocal style (hoarse throaty growling, staccato phrasing), but I enjoy that the vocals are intelligible. "Paradox" is a concept album, which continues the sci-fi/occult themed story which was initiated on "The Key (1990)", so there´s further conceptual continuity there.

"Paradox" features a raw, detailed, and powerful sound production, which suits the material perfectly. So upon conclusion Nocturnus A.D. have created a high quality death metal release, and while the different name should prevent me from calling this a true comeback album, I´ll risk the wrath of the gods and call it just that. This sounds more like Nocturnus than the "real" Nocturnus ever did after Browning was kicked out. Welcome back. A 4 star (80%) rating is deserved.

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