Friday, 4 May 2012

NOCTURNUS - Thresholds (1992)

01  Climate Controller
02  Tribal Voudun
03  Nocturne In Bm
04  Arctic Crypt
05  Aquatica
06  Subterranean Infiltrator
07  Alter Reality
08  Gridzone

Thresholds is the second full-length studio album from Florida death metal band Nocturnus. It was released on August 18th 1992 by Earache Records and follows the band's debut album 'The Key'.

Consisting of 8 songs including an instrumental one, 'Thresholds' is in the league of old-school technical Death Metal when brutality was still a part of the package. This album has that combined with the perfect amount of melodic parts in the form of intricate harmonies, weird scales and jaw-dropping solos provided by the guitar-wizard Mike Davis and Sean McNenney. With the level of this musicians it is clear that this album is very guitar-oriented, and of course we can hear a lot of experimentation in the guitarwork. The bass is going over and under the wall of powerful riffing, keeping a very heavy base and sometimes showing great prowess doing fast stuff or jazz-fusion rhythmic patterns. The drumming of Mike Browning has a very original style, mixing standard thrash metal measures with amounts of Death’s Bill Andrews-kind of drumming. Louis Panzer’s keyboards thankfully are just to add atmosphere and never become the main instrument. The vocals are a Death/Thrash bark in the vein of old-Death or Pestilence.

Variety is all over the record. The song-structures are basically very complicated with the exception of “Alter Reality” and “Gridzone” which are a bit more than generic. “Climate Controller” for example has 10 solos and countless riffs. This stunning anthem is one of the most complete songs ever with one killer riff following another and almost impossible soloing. I would like to see if Dream Theater is capable enough to play this song. “Tribal Vodoun” is a catchier song, it’s a bit more straight forward, wandering through a gloomy atmosphere and ending with a monstrous climax. Here we can hear more unorthodox scales than in the previous song. “Nocturne in Bm” is an instrumental song where Davis and McNenney show their dexterity. It has more like a progressive rock base with Rush-like keyboards and Jason Becker-like solos. “Arctic Crypt” is probably the best song on 'Thresholds', starting with Maiden-esque scales, following with classic death metal riffs that converge into a beautiful acoustic passage; after that a solo and another absolutely marvelous outro with a kind of riffing usually imitated by some far more weaker melodic-Swedish Death Metal bands.

I have no choice but to appreciate a band like Nocturnus, which looked forward to the stars, eschewing the grime and smear of the majority of their splattered statesmen. If only the execution and camaraderie of the members had been equivalent to the overall vision, they may have been one of the greatest death metal acts in history, because the possibilities were limitless to the amount of conceptual albums they could have written.

*The track "Alter Reality" was released as a single and a promotional  video was shot that received substantial airplay on MTV's Headbangers Ball. "Arctic Crypt" and "Climate Controller" also became notable fan favorites.

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