Exilium Noctis – Fragments of Apocalypse

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Reviewed: [September 2022]
Released [2022 Sleaszy Rider Records]
Rating [3.5/5]
Reviewer: Peter Atkinson

Greece’s Exilium Noctis may take a page from the classical aspirations of countrymen Septicflesh, but they present it in a less opulent, more old school manner on their debut full-length for something that recalls the early days of symphonic black metal. Instead of full orchestras and choirs, Exilium Noctis employ the sparse strains of a cello and/or a modest wash of synths/keys to accent their ritualistic blackened metal, yet they manage to do so with great effect, even with the album’s somewhat crude production.

Much of that modesty may be due to the relative newness of the band – with main members Alpha (vocals, guitars) and Omega (bass, guitars) launching the outfit just last year, and cellist Kayra and keyboardist Sigma coming on board after that – budget constraints and, of course, the pandemic. But these guys – and gal – manage to do a pretty decent job with what they have and if anything use the limitations to their advantage by creating an effectively desolate, dour atmosphere that actually resonates more than the usual full-blown symphonic pomposity.

The band employ this strategy from the outset of Fragments of Apocalypse, with mournful piano/cello strains – along with death knell bells – launching the otherwise rather furious “Desecrators.” Same goes for “Celestial Onslaught,” which lives up the “onslaught” half of the title once Krya and Sigma finish their haunting 90-second intro, the riffs and drums – or drum program, as the case may be – kick in and frontman Alpha’s vocals hit full roar.

For “Night Witches (Die Nachthexen),” the funereal chants and strings that lead things off reappear later for a groovy, chunky orchestral breakdown of sorts that is both a bit of a surprise and surprisingly cool – sounding a bit like the martial “Darkness, imprisoning me …”section in Metallica’s “One.” “Devouring the Carcass ov God” adds some plaintive guitar to its intro mix before it too charges off on a blackened sprint.
The classically inspired openings are perhaps a bit over overdone here, but “The Coming of Abaddon,” “Crucify The Rats” and “Wrath Eternal” – featuring guest vocals from Thryfing’s Jens Rydén – kick off at full bore without them. And as they are largely spaced betwixt and between, there is enough serve and volley going on to make the predictability less odious.

The overall soundscape on Fragments echoes Dimmu Borgir, Cradle Of Filth, Satyricon or Emperor at their most primal – or Covenant’s Nexus Polaris – with a more prominent death metal hue to the vocals and a somewhat less theatrical, more full-throttle presentation. The Slipknot style costuming, however, is another matter.

Regardless, when the band are in metal mode, they are absolutely ferocious, with blasting tempos and frantic trem guitars in abundance and the rough-hewn production lending extra bite. And when they are not, the strings and keys help set or accent the mood, or provide contrast, without being overbearing, bringing both balance and a good deal of grimness to mix, which is never a bad thing.


Videos


Exilium Noctis

Lineup
Alpha – vocals, guitars
Omega – bass, guitars
Kayra – cello
Sigma – keyboards

Track List
1. Desecrators
2. Night Witches (Die Nachthexen)
3. The Coming of Abaddon
4. Celestial Onslaught
5. Crucify the Rats of Church
6. Devouring the Carcass ov God
7. Wrath Eternal

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