Released: 2013, Metal Blade Records
Reviewer: Peter Atkinson
Sweden's Noctum follow fellow countrymen Ghost into the classic metal revivalist breach – though without the garish costuming or ever-present schtick. Boasting a sound that is heavily influenced by Mercyful Fate/early King Diamond – most obviously in rangey, occasionally falsetto vocals of David Indelöf, not to mention his affinity for human bone accoutrements – and the new wave of British heavy metal, Noctum proudly wave the early '80s flag, and with more genuine affinity than Ghost who, to me, seem like some sort of put-on or con job.
Indeed, Noctum are more than a bit too reverential in their old school inclinations. They do a great job of capturing the sound, mood and aura of the era, but don't do a whole to make it more their own or give it a contemporary spin. The retro production, gritty hooks, understated complexity and nifty guitar interplay, occult-inspired lyrics and, once again, the Diamond-esque vocals are all spot-on here, but too often it seems more like karaoke than something new, exciting or different.
There are exceptions, like the calamitous finale to “Azoth” or the buoyant, infectious “Resurrected In Evil” with its ringing guitar solos. But listen to the punchy “Temple of the Living Dead” or the towering “The Revisit” with your eyes closed, and you'd swear they were something from Don't Break The Oath if you didn't know any better. They're both terrific songs, don't get me wrong, but if imitation is the highest form of flattery, then King Diamond's probably blushing underneath his corpse paint right about now.
And that's the maddening rub with Final Sacrifice. Noctum have crafted a great collection of creepy, riffy and undeniably enjoyable songs here. But it all sounds so familiar. It's one thing to honor your influences, it's another to simply mimic them. And while Noctum don't seem anywhere near as calculating or gimmicky as Ghost, playing copycat is still playing copycat.