The Age of Miracles Has Passed
2/16/2012 - Review by: Etiam
The Age of Miracles Has Passed
Company: Unique Leader
A fractured and sometimes dissonant nightmare
Lecherous Nocturne's debut LP, 'Adoration of the Blade', was a caustic blast of blackened death metal with an attention span little greater than grindcore's. Brief though it may have been (eight tracks flying by in a mere twenty-three minutes), it was enough to get the band a contract with Unique Leader, and in 2008 the band returned with 'The Age of Miracles Has Passed'. Fittingly, on this record they have merged a little more neatly with the Unique Leader MO, as the blackened edge prominent on such earlier songs as 'Kampagne' has been shifted towards the background, leaving room for more death in this metal. Too, the production is fuller, the guitars have more body and a deeper crunch, the tremolo patterns explore deeper registers, Hohenstein's vocals have traded some blackened shrillness for a more midrange (though no less forceful) snarl, and the percussion of Jeremy Nissenbaum eases up on the snare more than Dallas Toler-Wade's session work did on the debut. (Yes, that is Dallas from Nile, who now needs only to prove his keyboard chops to rival Dan Swanö as one of metal's most talented multi-instrumentalists.)
Fans of the old style need not despair, however, as plenty of crossover remains to be found. Lecherous Nocturne's riffing remains heavily influenced by the darker arts of black metal, such as on 'Edict of Worms', which brims with minor chord barres, and 'The Preponderance of Fire', lurching towards tremolo peaks almost like a Dark Funeral "ballad". It's a neat way to inject melody into a song without sacrificing brutality, and this sensibility gives a deeper texture to the record than many Unique Leader offerings. An added benefit is that it makes the album's full duration (still short at 27 minutes) a comfortable listen in one sitting. This balance, particularly as heard in the frenzy of 'When Single Shines the Tripled Sun', actually brings Origin to mind more than Nile, though it should be noted that Lecherous Nocturne are far less enamored of sweep arpeggios than their Kansas brethren.
Still, if the entire album were this aggressive, 'The Age of Miracles...' would be just another brick in the wall of dazzling technical clinics with nothing memorable to say, impressive only until the next band came along and played all the same material 20 bpm faster. Thankfully, Lecherous Nocturne finds their patience on the title track, a relative epic of nearly five minutes that slows down nearly to the point of apocalyptic sludge. The ragged timbre of Hohenstein's vocals are allowed to shine, the chromaticism of the guitars shimmers, and the full weight of the band's lyrical vision manifests. Here, Lecherous Nocturne are neither like Nile nor Origin, but rather Ulcerate: a fractured and sometimes dissonant nightmare that sinks into the crevices of our brain instead of simply sandblasting all the wrinkles out at top speed. More interplay between this style and their predominantly uptempo offensive would put this record up a couple notches, but the closest they come back towards andante is the prolonged coda to the closing number. Savory leads, but they would be better in more complete context.
Today, after an uncommon number of lineup changes (including several since this album's release), Lecherous Nocturne has shed all connections to Nile--and may be better for it. With Dallas Toler-Wade on the debut and Chris Lollis on guitar since their demo days, the comparisons to Carolina's reigning metal royalty were inevitable and usually unfavorable. To be sure, some were warranted: lineup crossover is always a guaranteed talking point, and both bands have a certain bubbling frenzy in their sound. But ultimately, Lecherous Nocturne is striving to blaze their own trail, and ought not to be overshadowed. This sophomore record is a clear step towards their own light.