Review for Nokturnal Mortum’s seventh album "Verity"

"Коріннями вріс
В руках гострий спис
Плечем до плеча
Тут моя земля" (c) "З чортом за пазухою"

Is it necessary to talk in this review about the band itself and the list of their achievements, obtained by the years of scrupulous work on themselves? To remember the ups and downs, to name the best among a number of successful releases. Perhaps, it will be enough to mention that Nokturnal Mortum have been following their creed for more than 20 years — from one album to the next one, they open a completely new face to their fans.

With the chain of studio albums, the band has managed to develop itself so much that the latest records rather show the improvement of the genre itself, than just the musicians’ approach to it. In this case there is even no matter to blame them for escaping true style. As the years passed, it mutated from raw black/pagan black metal into a magnificent set of some unique stylistic techniques, various sub-genres, and reached an impressive shape. And their seventh album "Verity" shows how powerful guitars and blast beats may well recede into the background, giving way to wind and stringed ethnic instruments.

"Verity" became the first Nokturnal Mortum’s release since the successful "The Voice of Steel" (2009), not including some remastered LPs, a 5-disk compilation "22 Years Among the Sheep" (2016) and the split "The Spirit Never Dies" (2016) featuring the Polish band Graveland. And it's necessary to tell, that the record confidently has crossed those high bars of expectation.

As for the constant "rebirths" on the way to the "Verity" release, the band faced many certain obstacles, which also affected the waiting time. The line-up was radically changed and after that the musicians started working on their new image, including even the smallest details. So, the Nokturnal Mortum’s discography got the new logo, the set of their instruments were doubled, as well as the confident and perceptive lyrics became one more remarkable example of the extreme genre records in Ukrainian.

The musicians developed the share of patriotic subtext and mood of present-day Ukraine, which were also highlighted on "The Voice of Steel". The 12-song tracklist, including intro, outro, and the cover on Komu Vnyz’s "Lіra", will dispel all speculations about pathos and race for the popular trend. Impressively dense and rich album that lasts 74-plus minutes reveals to the listener a whole book of ancient cults, human being, spiritual forces and oppositions. Against the backdrop of "The Voice of Steel", which sounded like a call to an anvil bone, "Verity" turned out to be a frantic gallop of the huge army, which already rushes to the epicenter of the battle. And here it is worth to mention and the high-class work of the British sound engineer and musician Greg Chandler (Lychgate), who led the sound of the album to the peak of its epic atmosphere tangibility.

"Verity" tracklist is full of mid-tempo riffs if again to compare it with the band’s previous works. Perhaps some fans, who expected to hear more speedy and cold black pagan parts, will be disappointed, but Nokturnal Mortum paid a lot of attention to the steady parts, the juicy solos that reveal the beauty of all those folk instruments — sopilka, violin, hammered dulcimer, and others. They were recorded with the whole team of session musicians, featuring Sectorial’s frontman Ivan Kozakevych. Sometimes streaming sounds of sopilka and sonorous strings of hammered dulcimer replace the spectacular guitar solos or merge into melodic unison.

Perhaps the number of different instruments surpasses even the well-known "Lunar Poetry" or "Goat Horns". However, "Verity" sound has some despair features. It seems that all that inner struggle, fury, and inverted emotions are forced, which again suggests the attempts of musicians to reflect today's tragic events in Ukraine.

Each composition of the new album, perhaps apart from the cover song that seems to be a bit different from others, is built logically and complements the overall concept. Following the mature Ukrainian lyrics, they convey the thematic messages and the atmosphere of what is happening inside each of it. All this allowed the long-awaited LP to become a bestseller on Bandcamp on the day of its release. By the way, "Verity" is still among the leaders in the "metal" subsection.

The album was presented in digital format, on CD and in some limited editions: "Verity" CD with the 56-pages book and the unique "Verity" Box, which came out only with 555 copies. Lucky fans, who bought up the boxes, became the owners of the deluxe book, branded T-shirt, two posters, a set of signed photo cards and the disc itself.

By Yuri Somov