Michigan war mongers Nocturnal Fear have been strafing the metal battlefields with their blackened thrash metal for a full decade now (this album is their fifth). Their full-force attack mechanized assault is oddly appropriate for a band from Detroit, and yet the band has remained a largely acquired taste, albeit one with a dedicated following. I’ve heard one or two songs by the band over the years but EXCESSIVE CRUELTY is my first album experience.
Whether you know the band or not, I guarantee you’ve seen their album covers, always adorned with their mascot, a gasmask-wearing soldier, usually in portrayed in the midst of some violent act on the battlefield. A trite figurehead to be sure, but one that is wholly appropriate for the technical war-obsessed thrash contained on the band’s albums. Indeed, the band has built a respected reputation over the years by yes, playing thrash, but doing it their way and not simply aping their heroes from the past. Fact is, t he band is far too concerned with musically beating the living crap out of their fans with the most vicious music they can create to worry about following trends. To wit, the first song, “Murder for Hire”, sets the tone with an ultra-fast assault with vocals ripped straight from ex-Witchery man Toxine (assuming he was even harsher). Most of the album follows this template, crushing you like a high-speed tank. However, the band subtly mixes in some variation such as the damn-near catchy chorus of “Rolling Thunder”, a song that includes one of the only guitar solos on the album. There are other such moments sprinkled throughout the record, but you’ll need to listen multiple times to catch them.
It‘s clear that Nocturnal Fear have not only established their template, but mastered it, carving out a niche that is wholly their own. EXCESSIVE CRUELTY is simply another solid spike in the sand from a band slowly building their fortress.
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