Noctum – Final Sacrifice (Metal Blade)

Friday, 18th October 2013
Rating: 7.5/10

What a year for Uppsala, Sweden. Watain’s new The Wild Hunt scored a high chart position, while cementing the band as possibly the best black metal act around, In Solitude are about to climb the ladder with their third album Sister, and coming in from the rear are Noctum with Final Sacrifice. Next thing you know, A&R types will be camped out in front of the city’s various clubs, looking to snag the next big thing ala Seattle in the early 90’s. If only, right?

As for Noctum, the band got its wings in 2009, channeling the now totally en-vogue 70’s rock sound with doses of metal. To these sometimes-discernible ears, they’re a literal cross of Ghost and Witchcraft; you can hear it in the vocals (ala Ghost), and in the riffs (Witchcraft), where tonality and sublime cause are the root fundamentals. With Noctum, there’s no real trickeration – they’re prone to jamming straightforward, like the radio rock ready plunge of “Conflagration,” or the misty “A Burning Will,” which hones in on all sorts of vintage and proto ideas.

Vocalist/guitarist David Indelöf is going to draw the most attention, only because of his oddly familiar vocals, some of which could be considered a step down from Ghost’s Papa Emeritus II. Connection aside, he’s got smooth flavor on the Mercyful Fate-like “Void of Emptiness,” a song with an occult shake and hum right out of the book of Melissa, while the sprawling “Azoth” features more odes to darkness and evil.

It’s probably not a detriment to be the median of Ghost, Witchcraft, and Mercyful Fate, for each are the likeable sort, and serve to be a sound Ground Zero for a fledging band like Noctum. Final Sacrifice tolls a lot of familiar bells and channels a lot of the same spirits, but that’s rock for you circa 2013. Originality is no longer required…rocking is.

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