This release is just what you’d expect from one of America’s best Death Metal bands, with lightning fast guitars, dual-vocals, and killer riffs. I was a little unsure about the packaging concept with album, though. With bands out there like Behemoth and Gorgoroth, who take themselves and their “evilness” so seriously that they can be downright comical at times, I was somewhat surprised by Nocturnal’s Black Metal look. While it looks pretty cool, I’m somewhat suspicious of its sincerity.
While a little predictable in my opinion, this album far from disappoints. Darkness Spawned simply crushes, while seemingly speeding by without giving you a chance to breath. The surprise track is To Breathless Oblivion, with its epic scope and sweeping guitar lines. Black Dahlia has a bad habit of holding all their cords for the same amount of time on every song, while the cords on this song are held longer giving it a more epic feel. It also has the best lead on the album. For these reasons, this track stands head and shoulders above the rest of the album. I think Nocturnal would have flowed a little better had this track been the closer instead of Warborn, which is somewhat overshadowed by To Breathless Oblivion, despite its unique 3/4 section towards the end. However, there is much here that needs multiple listens to fully digest – another excellent trait of this band. The production on this album is an improvement over Miasma in the same proportion as Miasma was over Unhallowed, and the tone of Nocturnal is darker than both – a big improvement in my book.
While the packaging art is certainly a “new” step for Black Dahlia, Nocturnal really doesn’t deviate much from Miasma. Judging from the fact that there seems to be a new Black Dahlia clone every week, I can’t really blame them for sticking to their guns. But for my money, I’d like to see Black Dahlia take a chance with their forth album. With two excellent releases in their discography, this album is a little safe for my taste.