Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Nocternity - A Fallen Unicorn EP (2004)

A Fallen Unicorn begins much like Nocternity's sophomore Onyx ended, with the contribution of a Vinterriket ambient piece that really sets the mood for the ensuing mayhem. Granted, the bright and soothing ebb and flow of the synthesizers creates a massive contrast to the blasted pace of "A Fallen Unicorn", which seems like a mix of old Emperor and Burzum with the tinge of angelic vocals hovering below the violent ballast. Though the beat here does grow monotonous, I actually quite enjoyed this, more so than any of the Greeks' prior fast paced material. The force with which the tremolo guitars collide into one another alongside the airy rasping is just as engrossing as anything on the prior album.

"The Emerald Serpent Prince" follows with an even deeper level of aggression, this time with more submerged, subdued guitars with less implicit melodies. I definitely felt that same swollen, epic envelope that I once experienced with De Mysteriis dom Sathanas or In the Nightside Eclipse, though the notation is not quite that catchy. On "To Grey Olden Shores", they finally shift the pace towards a slower, denser atmospheric march that somewhat breaks up the one track nature of the previous metallic content, and this particular track breathes the wonder and ichor that was inherent to Onyx or the debut En Orio, with all the subterfuge that the soaked walls of distortion can afford. Lastly, Nocternity has included this amazing, industrial/ambient cover of none other than Björk's "Pagan Poetry", totally unexpected and impressive, what with its crashing percussive waves, distant guitar fuzz and zephyr-like, snarled rendition of the vocals.

When it comes to selecting such tributes, Nocternity is in a league of its own (their version of the Vangelis Blade Runner theme on a later EP is also noteworthy), and in their able claws, the worldly pop is easily transmuted into the graphic hostility of a martial black ambiance. It's yet another example of the band's application of imagination into what is naturally a pretty stale medium for creativity. Yeah, a lot of their black metal blasting is redolent of a hundred or more other artists, but they dress this with the lyrics of the fantastical and mythic, the added covers, and some of the finer instrumental, non-metal sequences of any in the Hellenic scene. The lyrics are beautiful, and this is someone who generally rolls eyes at the fairytale appeal of the titular track. A Fallen Unicorn is thus another worthy item to track down if you approved of their previous release, and another step forward into the mists of passion, despair and potential.

Verdict: Win [8/10] (you must be either wicked or naïve)

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