Review: Nokturnal Mortum – Verity

It would have been a mistake not to talk about the last album of the Ukrainian giants of pagan black metal, Nokturnal Mortum. Released eight years after The Voice of Steel and thanks to a gain in popularity in Western countries, that might partially be thanks to the Ragnard Rock Festival in France, Verity was the most expected album of the genre.

However, “patience” is the key word of this review. It is true just as well for the band, its meticulousness and perfectionism, as for the one who listens carefully. All I can tell you is Verity is a long journey and each song that composes it is one in its own right.

Verity starts the way it intends to go on, with a spectacular opening. “I’ll Meet You in Ancient Darkness” is a quiet immersion that turns into a wild ramp-up to a constant and implacable strength on “Molfa”. The way the song evolves to an enthralling and liberating chorus makes me want to live it. I want to see it live, wherever it’ll be.

The work of Nokturnal Mortum is rich and impressive but surely not grandiloquent. What keeps them apart from this is the real mastery and sincerity in what they do. This is what makes talented compositors to me, and such words remind me of the man behind the Belarusian symphonic folk project Dzivia, Artur Matveenko. I’m pleased to find these “stumbles” again, which are rather enlightened with power and rhythm. “Snow of the Snowstorm” is a significant example of this and the perfect symbiosis between fortifying traditional instruments and pure heavy riffs and soli.

But all these technical details fade away as soon as the single “Wolfish Berries” starts. Never before has a song touched me so deeply that it took my breath away. And I’m not someone who’s easily impressed. Even if I know the song by heart since it was released, I can’t deny how special it is. I’ll never tire of listening to it.

Ragnard Rock Festival 2016 – Photo by Martin Vergniez

From this moment, songs appear to be more focused on choirs more to my greatest pleasure. I really liked “Wild Weregild” for its electro touch because I find this breaks sounds like one by my friends FolCore, but also because it’s a very Belarusian thing to mix these kind of elements to folk metal, though we’re more into symphonic black pagan metal there. I’m glad it was done in the Ukrainian style.

“Black Honey” is a surprise too. It’s the shortest song and it’s focused on one melody, one different singing style and one specific atmosphere. This is found on “Night of the Gods”, a slower and more contemplative track. The violin melody brings melancholia and opens “Where Do the Wreaths Float Down the River?”, which ends the journey on a path to wonders and suspense.

If there’s something I’ve learnt through this album, it’s the exclusivity in the way of approaching things and, as a matter of fact, relationships. I couldn’t give the same attention as the others to Verity. I didn’t want to waste it by making it an ordinary accessory. I don’t regret my decision of waiting for the new album to discover Nokturnal Mortum, as well as giving the necessary amount of time and effort to fully appreciate it and try to make it appreciated.

Verity is out now.

Nokturnal Mortum:  official | facebook | vk | bandcamp | youtube | music-hall

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