Released: 2000, Lost Disciple Records
Reviewer: Luxi Lahtinen
Noctuary hails from California and is said to be one of the most extreme yet well-known Black Metal bands in the US –underground metal scene. WHERE FIRES BREED BLOOD is the band´s 2nd full-length album for their current label and I have to say, I wasn´t expecting nearly this good Black Metal as these disciples of the devil have been capable of coming up with for WHEN FIRES…. Obviously the guys have got a couple of vital clues of how Black Metal as a true art form of an extreme metal should be played, packed and brought into the light as a nice and cool mixture where a raw and fast Black Metal meets more of a melodic and atmospheric nature of the very genre in question. Oddly and somewhat deceptively this sounds more like the Scandinavian Black Metal than American, so I guess it´s rather safe to say what bands these extreme people in Noctuary might consider as their main influences for Noctuary (old Immortal and old Satyricon came in my mind as the very 1st nominees…).
As a single note, I´d like to mention that the songs on this album have been divided into 5 different chapters, probably giving a better idea to listeners ´bout a concept album of which each song has something to do with one other either musically or lyrically. I failed to find out the lyrical connection of the songs as I don´t have the lyrics available here for it, so it must be more like a musical connection in that case then…
Most of the time the guys kick their songs into the air at full speed ´til they stop all of a sudden and make constantly more space for different atmospheres and a bit ´maiden-ish´ melodies. Those melodic arrangements of their songs are the highlights of the album in my opinion – not forgetting some well-written guitar riffs and leads that add their own great spice into the wholeness. And as if those elements weren´t already enough, add also some piano parts, mandolin and flamenco guitar and you have a very diverse Black Metal album in your hands. There´s absolutely NO keyboards to be used on this release, so in that sense this is somewhat an extraordinary blackish freak amongst today´s Black Metal releases of which at least 80% have keyboards as a part of an instrument arsenal on these particular releases. As comparison, in Europe it´s even hard to find a Black Metal band without any keyboards involved in its music; it´s maybe even impossible nowadays.
As for the stand-out tracks, I quite cannot think of any particular song or songs that could take the lead in that department, but right now “Vengeance Before Valor” and “At Journey´s End” might feed my blackened brain cells with quite a pulverizing impact which probably is a good sign as far as Noctuary´s future stuff is concerned. No doubts, Noctuary have gained its own place in the elite class of the US Black Metal by this remarkable release that sets them apart from the masses of other US Black Metal troops. Hopefully they will be capable of showing the way for other US extreme metal bands alike, too, in the future. Time shall tell, obviously…