Released: 1995, Oriana Music
Reviewer: Metal-Rules.com UK Team
After reviewing the monument “The Voice of Steel” from 2009, it was time for me to look back on Nokturnal Mortum’s early years. The band was formed in Kharkiv in 1991 under the name of Suppuration and they were playing raw death metal at that time. They released one demo “Ecclesiastical Blasphemy” in 1992 and changed their name to Crystaline Darkness one year later. Then, the Ukrainian did their second demo “Mi Agama Khaz Mifisto”, which will be remixed and released later as part of the split album “Path of the Wolf / Return of the Vampire Lord” with their old friends of Lucifugum. This short demo leans more towards black metal and offers already a glimpse of what this cult horde will become in the future.
Two years later, they changed again their name to Nokturnal Mortum definitively and released their third demo tape “Twilightfall” after a few line-up changes. This record was self-produced and didn’t achieve any recognition at that time unfortunately. That was a pity since it was a masterpiece of melodic black/death metal with folk elements. In my opinion, it should be considered as the band’s first real album. Their fans had to wait until 2003 to see this amazing record re-released on CD by Oriana Music (sold out for a long time).
“Twilightfall” showed already how talented Varggoth and his comrades were at that time. After a successful intro with eerie synths and Gregorian chant, they’ve delivered some excellent compositions mixing atmospheric black metal and melodic death metal (the Suppuration influences are still there). Sataroth’s symphonic keyboards are absolutely stunning and take the listener to the beautiful snow-covered forests of ancient Ukraine. Wortherax’s guitar solos are brilliant, especially on “On the Wings of Scarlet Sunset” in which we can recognize the neoclassical speed metal touch. That’s not surprising to see that he will later play actively as a guest musician for a few great local hordes (Finist, Khors and Munruthel) due to its talent. Along with Sataroth, he has provided many inspired and catchy melodies that make this album essential for any black/death metal fan.
Varggoth has used different type of vocals very efficiently (deep growls, raspy screams and some interesting clean vocals). Throughout the songs, we can feel with pleasure the Ukrainian folk influences that will be one of the trademarks of their Heathen art, particularly on the majestic ballad “Where Rivers Flow into the Seas” (including some recurrent spectral female voices) and “Oriana (Waterfall of Twilight)”. Munruthel’s drum machine isn’t very powerful and consequently gives an impression of amateurism. However, the use of drum machines is something typical in the Eastern European black metal scene and therefore, we can’t criticize this choice really. Anyway, the quality of each track is so high that we can forget this detail in the end.
I simply can’t understand why the majority of their fans have always ignored “Twilightfall”. It is one of the most underrated masterpieces I’ve ever heard. The fact that it gathers many different musical influences may be the reason. Indeed, this is Nokturnal Mortum’s most diversified album for sure. To conclude, legendary French label Osmose Productions have re-released this Slavonic jewel in February 2015 on vinyl format (limited edition) with a magnificent artwork. I’m still waiting for a brand new CD edition but that’s nice to see that Hervé Herbaut and Varggoth haven’t forgotten this sumptuous ode to nature. So, get quickly your vinyl before it sells out!
Review by Oliver Manso.