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Early nineties curiosity.
on 28 August 2002
During the late eighties and early nineties the burgeoning American death metal scene belched up Nocturnus onto unsuspecting UK metalheads. They featured Mike Browning, the one-time drummer for the infinitely superior Morbid Angel, unusually for the time they had a keyboard player, not to mention an incredibly widdly guitar player.
Although at the current time discussion on this album isn't exactly a burning issue those (like myself) searching out a bit of hindsight reviewing seem to be mentioning how Nocturnus were ahead of their time. My personal opinion is that while certainly not ahead of their time they definately were different to it.
Consider the elements: The manifold keyboard parts are extremely technical and the interaction between them and the flailing, widdly guitar parts give Thresholds a very discernable prog rock feel. The albums production too is reverb washed and unabraisive giving the whole thing a strangely mellow feel. Unlike most thrash and death bands of the time Nocturnus are geared towards the music and atmosphere rather than the vocalist and the vocal content. Nocturnus although doubtlessly excellent musicians sport one of the worst vocalists in the world. Presumably they know this is his voice is very low in the mix, bathed in reverb and it some segways completely absent.
Overall, like its predecessor, The Key, Threshholds is not your average death metal album. As intimated earlier it works well as easy listening but much of the atmosphere is ruined by the unbelievably frequent guitar solos. And when I say frequent I mean about one every ten seconds. Don't get me wrong, I like a good solo as much as the next man but this guy is a serious one trick pony and once you've heard his mind blowing sweep picking once he just repeats ad infinitum until the end of the album.
If you are a muso anorak like me this is a strange old beast to hold in your collection but if you are looking for great thrash and death from that era buy Morbid Angel - Blessed are the Sick, Annihilator - Never Neverland, Pantera - Cowboys from Hell or any of Metallica's first four albums.