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Noctum - Final Sacrifice Review

by Matt Hensch

"Final Sacrifice" is the Mercyful Fate worship movement going on clearance. I could spend all night talking about the glories of In Solitude or other bands that have chosen to worship under the banner of "Melissa" and "Don't Break the Oath," as this idolization of one of the finest bands ever (fact) has delivered its fair share of excellence, but Noctum is different. Noctum's cohorts used the Mercyful Fate style of heavy metal as a building block instead of solely relying on copied riff structures and vocal patterns—most have been able to establish a musical identity of sorts, or at least show artistic growth from their roots. Noctum is exactly the opposite: they have few tricks they can call their own, and "Final Sacrifice," though decent, is little more than a band of dudes wearing I <3 MERCYFUL FATE shirts with the occasional minor rock touch. It's the first of its kind that isn't totally appealing.

But giving Noctum the credit they deserve, "Final Sacrifice" proves this style of heavy metal is still pretty good even when it's not that good. Noctum simply feels restrained, as if these Swedes had been tied down to straightforward, palpable fibers that refused to branch out from the works of Black Sabbath, Iron Maiden, and especially Mercyful Fate. The album locks its hands around what it wants and never lets go, and in the end it sounds exactly how it appears. It's something that they manage to pull off quite well despite the lack of color, however, as much of "Final Sacrifice" remains stable and sturdy. The vocals in particular are very effective in this gloomy surrounding, coming off as wonderful replications of King Diamond's singing without the falsettos.

Then again, it's really an exercise in how long they can keep the praise going without it hindering the album's quality. And yeah, Noctum's emulation is surprisingly enjoyable—they certainly have the haunted atmosphere and addictive riffing down—but at times the impression turns sour from a lack of spice. "Void of Emptiness" takes after a Mercyful Fate quickie known as "Gypsy" almost too much, as it comes off as a counterfeit rocker instead of an authentic slab of devotion, and some tracks act stagnant, just running through the motions. The only real anomaly here is found in the Sabbath-esque drawls of the atmospheric "The Revisit," which isn't only the album's longest anthem, but also its best. It has a retrogressive tint that matches the foggy instrumentation nicely, balanced by doom-laden guitar work and powerful vocals—it's quite fun.

Other than that, "Final Sacrifice" runs low on tricks and surprise plot twists. Noctum's style boils down to sincere Mercyful Fate-like musicianship sold cheaper than anywhere else, made digestible for even the young ones whose tummies have trouble dealing with the evil spirits. In its penny-pinching nature, however, Noctum lost a valuable creative force that would've lifted this group to the achievements of their cohorts, but alas, they settled for the easy way, and it comes with its perks and consequences. "Final Sacrifice" will definitely delight its intended audience to an extent, but I don't see anyone calling this a masterpiece unless they're strangers to the works of Mercyful Fate, which would be unacceptable at this point and grounds for immediate castration.

Noctum - Final Sacrifice


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