|Despite the maturity of their demo, Noctisdark will have a hard time finding the right audience for their melodic Death Doom.
|Noctisdark from Spain put me in a difficult position with their third demo EP The Roots of Dreamers: As a reviewer, I have to do justice to both the quality of the music and the expectations of listeners, which seems an impossible balancing act in this case. The band started out in 1999 as an offshoot of Ignis Æterni but has since evolved into an independent act. The many years of experience really show, both in terms of songwriting and musicianship – even though the band has never been signed to a label and obviously has not found much recognition in the scene up to now, they have already found their distinct sound and their music shows a certain level of maturity. This leads me to the bottom line right away: The material on this demo is good for what it is, but I wouldn’t know whom to recommend it to. I will therefore try to focus on the descriptive side of things from now on and leave it to the readers whether or not they are interested in lending their ear to this band.
A look at the track titles will make one thing clear: This is neither Traditional nor Extreme Doom of any sort, so at least it is obvious that purists of said styles will not find this very appealing. The Roots of Dreamers shows the unavoidable influences from the Peaceville bands and also calls to mind the yearning lead guitars of Saturnus. But compared to other bands in the field of Melodic/Gothic Death Doom, Noctisdark are generally less heavy, less emotionally gripping, less intense and dark – in essence, they play something one might label Melancholic Easy Listening Metal (maybe I should patent this genre term?). I am not saying that they fail to deliver the necessary heaviness, intensity etc., mind you: it was never supposed to be there in the first place. Instead, this ultra-mellow approach seems to be chosen on purpose. Note that my above attempt at coming up with a fitting category does not feature Doom in it – this, too, was chosen on purpose. For despite the above-mentioned influences, this demo is really a borderline case which will not be considered as a Doom Metal release by everyone. The consistent midtempo rhythms do not make it easier.
This being said, there is a lot of quality and potential on display here. The atmosphere of lightweight melancholy is homogeneous throughout the release, pervading every minute of the songs. As can be expected, it is created by melodic guitar patterns and keyboards (often acting as a piano supplement) for the most part. All of the musicians pull off their parts very well and are perfectly outbalanced. An excellent mix helps bringing out this professionalism although the production itself cannot compete with that of bigger bands. Noctisdark have come up with surprisingly catchy, recognisable compositions (I found myself whistling along, how un-Doom is that?) and seem to have put much effort into the arrangements. The vocalist deserve some credit, too – he uses no less than four different vocal styles and his strong side is the harsher half of those styles, namely the obligatory death growls and occasional blackish screams. Theatrical spoken word passages add to the epic feel of the songs, while the clean singing goes well with the melodic nature of the music. However, the latter vocal style is certainly the weakest one – the singing is in tune most of the time, but it sounds very thin and lacks the necessary technical and emotional nuances to really shine. This shortcoming is most apparent in “The Touch of the Morning Sun” which starts off with guitar and vocal lines that seem to pay tribute to Solitude Aeturnus, or more precisely, they try to and fail because they simply lack the necessary power and proficiency. All that has been said in this paragraph does not fully apply to the bonus tracks which are taken from the previous EP The Four Songs and are similar both in style and production, but far less convincing overall.
There is hardly anything left to say which could conclude this review. Noctisdark have recorded a good EP and prove that they have found their stylistic niche. For this, they have my full respect and deserve yours as well. Now they will have to find an audience for this niche and a label which is willing to support the full-length currently in the making. In the end, it does not matter whether I personally would listen to their music again, what matters is that I believe there should be a fair chance for every musical endeavour with sufficient talent and quality. Unfortunately, the better part of today’s music industry seems to have done away with this kind of idealism. I sincerely hope that these guys will make their way.
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1. Broken Dreams in Poppy Fields
2. The Waterpath
3. The Touch of the Morning Sun
4. The Wind Brings Me Cries
5. Lady Lake
6. In Bloom
7. El Funeral de los Occultos
Duration : Approx. 45 minutes
Visit the Noctisdark bandpage.