Nocturnal Graves – An Outlaw’s Stand
Released: January 7, 2022
J.R. // Lead Vocals, Drums, Rhythm Guitar, Bass
Decaylust // Lead Guitar, Vocals
Shrapnel // Lead Guitar
Prain // Vocals
Melbourne-based metal war merchants Nocturnal Graves return with album number four, the dramatically titled An Outlaw’s Stand. Their legacy, featuring former and current members of Denouncement Pyre, is all over this album, bending their thrash roots to incorporate a blackened death metal approach. The result is an album that is unrelenting with a fury that comes from being caged at home for much of the last few years. The artwork captures this – a monochromatic depiction of the hellfire we have all experienced during the global pandemic.
What Nocturnal Graves do well is put their foot down and smash out riffs and beats. Opener ‘Death to Pigs’ is an aggressive tempo song, perfect for triggering whiplash as the twin leads of Decaylust and Shrapnel wail over the rhythm. Words like “brutal” fail to capture what is really happening — it is a release of frustration and anger, channeled through years of social torment and unleashed on record. ‘Command for Conflict’ launches straight into J.R.‘ s blast beats and guttural vocals. It captures the classic Graves sound, recalling their earlier albums such as Satan’s Cross. The first guitar solo though is note perfect, slowed down from the main riffs offering some brief musicality to the onslaught that is the squealing second solo. It’s Judas Priest being put through one of the torture devices from the Saw franchise. ‘Ruthless Fight’ is a straight thrasher in the vein of old school Kreator, and arguably one of the more accessible tracks for first time listeners.
When they mix it up though the results are devastating. ‘Across the Acheron’ is hard and fast with the double kick but more deliberate and doom laden with the riffs. The result is a pummelling and desolate headbanging anthem. When it picks up pace it turns your stomach as you start to wonder how they fuck they will pull this off live. It has the best solo on the album too, a winding twisting affair that you can sing along with. ‘No Mercy for Weakness’ is another blackened thrash song, but with a breakdown so heavy it may induce vomiting. ‘Law of the Blade’ is another one that changes tempo between guitar and drums to create sonic confusion before getting down to the business of shredding.
Another standout is the uncompromising ‘Beyond the Flesh’, in which Decaylust handles the lead vocals. It’s pure blackened thrash, a fierce tribute to the occult and the music backs it up. The midpoint of the song has a pause that leads into an epic series of riffs and solos that evoke the horrors of ancient burial rites and rituals, a demonic ode that resonates into the final thrashfest. The closing title track echoes the opening songs by not fucking around and smashing the shit out of everything in sight, melodic interlude notwithstanding.
It’s not an album that will appeal to the masses, nor is it intended to be, but for fans of the darkest metal arts it’s another installment in a career that continues to deliver quality albums in the genre. Considering that this genre usually ignores clean production, the solos sound incredibly good and the snare is particularly sharp when it needs to be.
Your kid sister probably isn’t going to stop streaming Doja Cat (or whatever kids listen to these days) but if you’ve grown tired of some of the more notable blackened death bands doing pop covers or whatever, then An Outlaw’s Stand is probably perfect for you… and scaring the shit out of your little sister.
Nocturnal Graves – An Outlaw’s Stand tracklisting:
1. Death to Pigs
2. Command for Conflict
3. Ruthless Fight
4. Across the Acheron
5. No Mercy for Weakness
6. Law of the Blade
7. Beyond the Flesh
8. An Outlaw’s Stand
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