In the past decade Nocte Obducta have been among the top representatives of the avant-garde, atmospheric black metal that has always found fertile ground in Germany. After allegedly disbanding in 2006, following the recording of Sequenzen Einer Wanderung, later released in 2008) , part of the band gave birth to a new project called Dinner Auf Uranos, with which they released an excellent work as 50 Sommer – 50 Winter, where the extreme component of the sound was put aside altogether. What seemed to be the end of the story for the Mainz combo, as often happens, turned into a period of stand-by interrupted in 2011 by the release of Verderbnis – Der Schnitter Kratzt An Jeder Tür, finally followed by the recent Umbriel (Das Schweigen Zwischen Den Sternen), the subject of this review. After several listens it can be stated with certainty that the only thing wrong with this operation was the use of the old identity: in fact, Umbriel has few common traits with either the first post-reunion work or the old masterpieces, appearing rather as the logical successor precisely to 50 Sommer – 50 Winter (a connection also supported by the presence, not coincidentally, of a long track entitled precisely Dinner Auf Uranos). Obviously, the comparison with the two Teil and with Sequenzen itself would be unfair and even pitiless: here we are talking, in essence, about a band different in stylistic choices and, in part, also in attitude; therefore, the only way to make an objective examination of Umbriel is to forget about the moniker printed on the cover. The black elements, which all in all appear to be a sort of due act aimed at maintaining some reference to the band’s past, are basically confined to Mehr Hass alone, but it is in the rest of the album that Nocte Obducta show their (new) best face, under the banner of a shadowy and evocative dark, which often goes intertwined with passages of a post metal style. Whether one likes such a turn or not, a track like Leere is unquestionably an authentic jewel imbued with a decadent lyricism that cannot leave one indifferent; the opener Kerkerwelten – Teil I, the instrumental 01-86 Umbriel and Ein Nachmittag Mit Edgar also follow, albeit with some variations on the theme, this melancholic and decidedly introspective trend. Rather contradictory, on the other hand, are the aforementioned Dinner Auf Uranos and its instrumental “reprise,” which get lost in some superfluous ambient passages, with the only result of weighing down an album that, both in length and content, is not exactly easy listening. Nothing to object, however, about the beautiful closing entrusted to Kerkerwelten – Teil II, which lets itself go in its last minutes to sorrowful doom-like melodies. Nocte Obducta of 2013, therefore, have little to do with those of the last decade, but their transformation into a band with more intimate and elegant sounds does not necessarily mean a significant lowering of the quality level of the proposal and, when all is said and done, the positive aspects far outweigh the negative ones; it is simply a matter of understanding the musical content with a different mental approach: only in this way will it be possible to appreciate without prejudice the work of what remains, always and in any case, a band of great value.
2013 – MDD Records