Nocturnus AD – Paradox
Reviewed: June, 2019
Released: 2019, Profound Lore Records
Reviewer: Aaron Yurkiewicz
Sometimes good things happen. Sometimes it takes almost 30 years, but sometimes good things happen.
Almost 30 years ago, Mike Browning got kicked out of and lost the rights to Nocturnus, the band that he himself founded after his exit from Morbid Angel. Nocturnus – the band that gave us THE KEY, the first true technical death metal album, the band that first made it cool to incorporate keyboards into death metal, and the band that first made it cool to combine sci-fi with Satan. Despite the remaining members of Nocturnus disbanding in 2002, Browning’s been legally limited with what he could do under his own Nocturnus AD moniker for ages, but it appears the tides have finally turned in his favor.
PARADOX is the debut full length from Nocturnus AD and picks up the storyline from where THE KEY left off. Something about time traveling Satanists and cybernetic demons? I honestly don’t remember and don’t know that I ever fully understood it, and the same goes for the storyline of PARADOX, but I do understand that this album freakin’ SHREDS. Much as was the case with THE KEY, if technical guitar wizardry and death metal experimentation get your rocks off, none of the fluff matters – you’re gonna love this record.
Tracks like “Paleolithic”, “Aeon of the Ancient Ones” and lead single “Precession of the Equinoxes” trade off between a seemingly endless bounty of dizzying riffs, blast beats, and weirdo robotic themes that superficially wouldn’t mean anything if they weren’t part of a larger and more cohesive body of work. And that’s what makes PARADOX a truly exceptional album – it’s not like a Dragonforce wanking all over the fretboard for the sake of wankery, PARADOX offers up 9 gems of top tier death metal that each just happen to be entirely over the top.
I saw Nocturnus AD perform at Maryland Deathfest a few years ago and distinctly remember how good the band was and how disappointed I was that the legacy of THE KEY had been tarnished by so much rock star BS. But PARADOX is proof that sometimes good things happen. It may take almost 30 years for good things to happen, but sometimes they do. Hopefully PARADOX presents itself as the first of many future opportunities for Nocturnus AD; it’s an album’s worth of long overdue redemption that both Browning and the fans deserve.