When, in October of last year I found myself talking about Mogontiacum, I expressed a certain perplexity about the appearance of avant-garde black to which Nocte Obducta had finally arrived, as the form in the long run ended up prevailing over the substance. Not even a year later, the band from Mainz returns with the eleventh full length of a brilliant career that began at the dawn of the new millennium, and it is immediately evident a decisive shift in sound towards the style that made the fortune of ours in the last decade. The black metal fabric is always restless and changing, and of course Nocte Obducta in this cataloging continue to be a bit tight, but Totholz shows than the most recent releases a relative linearity that, at least, prevents excessive dispersion of many good insights of which the German musicians are the creators. Some elements, such as the shorter duration compared to the recent habits (forty minutes against the abundant hour of Umbriel and Mogontiacum) and the reduced distance between a release and the other, could also make us think to the introduction in Totholz of music that, at first, was left out from the previous album, maybe integrated by some new composition, but even if this was the case, a material so good in its whole cannot be defined as a waste; for sure, though, there is a quite decided return towards a more canonical form that to define linear, when talking about bands like Nocte Obducta, is maybe excessive, but that anyway doesn’t force the listener to walk too tortuous roads to fully enjoy its essence. All this does not mean that Totholz represents the definitive (re)squaring of the circle, because in the end the work lives on two episodes definitely brilliant and above average, such as Die Kirche Der Wachenden Kinder and Wiedergaenger Blues, compared to a handful of other tracks not as incisive although scattered with some good ideas and marked by a stylistic figure that remains always quite personal. While Die Kirche Der Wachenden Kinder represents, in some way, the quintessence of Nocte Obducta‘s way of understanding black music, with rather calm rhythms to support atmospheres and melodies that are expressed in a beautiful qualitative crescendo, the final Wiedergaenger Blues offers more than a quarter of an hour of music that touches the ambient, made of solemn keyboard openings that blend well with some harshness without, in fact, the whole appears never muddled or forced. Discrete are the shorter Liebster and the title track, but ultimately it is in the last song that Nocte Obducta can successfully rewind the creative tape, returning to give lessons in extreme avant-garde, and it is from there that hopefully they can start with renewed vigor in their journey that seems far from stopping.
2017 – MDD Records
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