Released: 1996, Oriana Music
Reviewer: Metal-Rules.com UK Team
Just one year after the underrated jewel “Twilightfall”, Nokturnal Mortum came back with a second album “Lunar Poetry” that would open the gates of success and recognition to them within the underground scene. Released by MetalAgen Records (one of the most important Russian metal labels) as a demo tape in 1996, this opus marked a significant change of style for the band. Indeed, their death metal roots (from the Suppuration era) disappeared for good and they carved what would be later known as the Ukrainian black metal sound. Drum machine, raw guitars, melodic compositions, soaring layers of synths and native folkloric elements are the most common features of this unique style.
As for the lyrics, Varggoth decided to focus on the Slavonic paganism and folklore deeply, which was never done before. As a consequence, many excellent local bands followed the same method later, making their scene united and stronger. Nowadays, “Lunar Poetry” is considered as a classic of symphonic black metal and has been very influential in the development of this genre, especially in Eastern Europe. It’s hard to believe that it was just a demo in the beginning. In 2001, big US label The End Records re-released this cult masterpiece on CD for the first time, which helped them to spread their name throughout the American continent. Then, Oriana Music re-released it again numerous times after being sold out.
This record has been illustrated on several occasions by some magnificent artworks that reflect perfectly the incredible beauty of the songs. It contains nine tracks of pure melodic black metal, inviting the listener to wander through the majestic plains and snow-covered forests of Ukraine. “Tears of Paganism” is one of the best intros I’ve ever heard, with its amazing icy atmosphere. There is truly something magic in the synths as they sound like calls sent by the ancient gods of the Slavonic pantheon. After that, the musicians crafted several sumptuous pearls that would become classics (“Lunar Poetry”, “Perun's Celestial Silver”, “Carpathian Mysteries”, “...and Winter Becomes”, “Ancient Nation”).
Munruthel’s drum machine sound more professional this time, far better than in “Twilightfall”. Varggoth’s singing is excellent, alternating black metal screams with some interesting clean vocals. His pagan incantations fit perfectly with the compositions. Wortherax’s guitars are still very inspired, such as the ass-kicking solo on “Lunar Poetry”. But what would be this album without Sataroth’s enchanting symphonies? Along with Saturious (who will join the horde afterwards), he’s perhaps the most talented keyboardist in this musical style. He has forged his own way of playing keyboards since he took his inspiration from the Ukrainian traditional music. The native folk melodies are indeed recognizable, making the synths even more atmospheric to our great satisfaction (“The Grief of Oriana”).
To conclude, they’ve offered us a fantastic cover song of Celtic Frost’s “Sorrows of the Moon”, which is far better than the original version. I’m not joking or exaggerating here. Sataroth has turned this song very melodic by adding some beautiful layers of synths to it. Of course, if you don’t like keyboards in general, you may not appreciate their version. Anyway, this album is a milestone for the genre. It has launched Nokturnal Mortum’s career and contributed to the emergence of a unique black metal scene. Groundbreaking.
Review by Oliver Manso.