Nokturnal Mortum - Verity - (7.5/10)
Published on May 27, 2017
Genre:Folk / Black
Like many, I was eagerly anticipating Nokturnal Mortum’s followup to the monumental Voice of Steel. To me, that was easily the band’s finest hour; while Goat Horns and Lunar Poetry are great works in their own right, their other albums can be spotty in places and NeChrist was just a giant clusterfuck. The band’s always been a bit temperamental on the quality front, so while I was excited to hear Verity, I did approach with a bit of caution.
So, the million-dollar question: Did they deliver? In some ways, yes. They’ve returned with a production that is a bit more clear and defined than their previous albums, giving the keyboards and folk instruments a little bit more wiggle room. With that comes a bit of a decreased emphasis on the black metal influence in their music, making this sound more like Weltanschauung than To the Gates of Blasphemous Fire. Verity is adventurous and varied, but that doesn’t make everything sound like a complete mess. There are moments on tracks like “With Chort in My Bosom”and “Song of the Snowstorm” where the songs reach the same levels of grandiosity as Voice of Steel. When this band writes melodic black metal, they’re one of the best in the game at it. “Black Honey” is one of the slower groovy tracks that works, as the additional instruments compliment the mix nicely and give off a near-psychedelic rock vibe at times. It’s been a pretty long wait in between albums (eight years) so you can tell they really wanted to pull out all the stops, and it makes for some pretty sublime moments.
Unfortunately, said moments don’t last quite as long due to the nature of the songwriting. Because it’s so varied and packed with interludes, some segments don’t always get enough time to reach their utmost potential. While Verity has some great moments, no, doubt, it is a little bit inconsistent. “Spruce Elder” doesn’t work particularly well, and it seems like each track has at least one moment that sounds a little bit weaker than the rest. Varggoth’s harsh vocals complement the more energetic moments perfectly, but when the music is more steady and low-key they don’t mesh as well, and I’m not too keen on the clean vocals most of the time. They’re passable, but do leave a little bit to be desired. Sometimes it’s a result of the vocal lines being a little bit too safe, sometimes the tone just isn’t there, but Nokturnal Mortum has generally been at their best when they shy away from the clean singing, even on their more melodic and folk-oriented albums. (Chorus on “Ukraine” notwithstanding.)
Verity is a bit of a step down from its predecessor, but I knew it was going to be nigh-impossible for the band to top it either way. For the most part, the good outweighs the bad just enough on this album to make it worth a listen for the returning fan. Some of the instrumental folk passages are really neat and interesting, sounding playful yet serious in a way that folk metal often tries (and fails) to pull off. There’s over an hour of material on this album, so there’s bound to be a few tracks in here worth your time if you’re a fan, but Verity isn’t quite the masterpiece that eight years of waiting leads one to expect. Their logo is also slightly worse now if that’s something that matters.
(This one’s way better)