Nocturnal Breed – Napalm Nights (Agonia)

Tuesday, 11th February 2014
Rating: 7/10

On the level enough to have the ever-choosy Nocturnal Culto lend some guest vocals, Norway’s Nocturnal Breed have largely been on the cult fringe since their 1996 formation. Being that they are a black/thrash meld, it kept them out of harm’s way when the BM bust happened in the early 00’s, but it also relegated the band as a fourth or fifth option when it came to dirty Scandinavian thrash. Napalm Nights, their first album in seven years, keeps Nocturnal Breed right where they belong: Cult enough to be dug by the scene’s main conspirators, yet too limited to make a further impact.

The band’s ragged thrash merged with some uneven BM blips effectively grasp at the late-80’s straws, where upon the band would probably be quick to nominate the usual Bathory/Sarcophago/Venom triumvirate as their primary influences. It’s certainly out-and-about on the 12-minute title track, which doesn’t exactly feel that long, but doesn’t necessarily bring out the epic/climatic brigade to make things happen. It’s just a long song with a lot of riffs. The Teutonic/Slayer “Dawn Campaign…Flamethrower Ridge” has more of an edge, as S.A. Destroyer’s dipped-in-acid vocals work in tandem with a crunchy downbeat. Elsewhere, the vintage-happy “Under the Whip” (not to be confused with the totally awesome The Crown song of the same name) and “The Devil Swept the Ruins” clank with rot-addled riffs and again, Destroyer’s vocals, which end being the most convincing aspect of these ten jams.

Designated and prime for the Scandinavian swell who will permanently have a foot in the past (read: anything before 1995), Nocturnal Breed aren’t a tough sell as they are unremarkable. For black leather gauntlet bikers and former corpse-paint donners only.

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