Early-to-mid ’90s Black Metal: It may sound like naff hubris and you’ve heard a million old timers say it, but the old adage “you were either there, or you weren’t” really does ring true. Those that were students of the black arts back then know the indescribable feeling that permeated the time, a heady youthful excitement and palpable dark magic in the air… A feeling that, try as they might with varyingly admirable/shithouse results, modern black metal artists simply can not replicate authentically. Those that were there understand the nostalgia and will understand why this, Örth’s ‘Nocturno Inferno’, is such a special release.
In October 1996 a band created of artists from such luminary names as Gorgoroth, Aeternus, Immortal and Borknagar set foot in the legendary Grieghallen studios in Norway; four months later, ‘Nocturno Inferno’ was born. The band was Örth, and after distribution problems and the tragic suicide of member Erik “Grim” Brødreskift, the project dissolved with only a handful of people ever receiving a copy of ‘Nocturno Inferno’.
With founding member V-Rex reanimating the project later on as Arvas, the album was forgotten for over twenty years… Until now.
Finally seeing a proper release through Satanic Art Media/Plastic Head Distribution, ‘Nocturno Inferno’ makes its long-overdue grand entrance. From the moment the first echoing ambiance of the unmastered Pytten production bursts from the speakers dripping with the glorious ’90s black metal feeling that wraps itself around your heart and captures your soul like nothing else, you’re transported instantly to the days when Black Metal was bursting with inherent vitality, freshness and sincerity; you can tell the artists feel it.
The album as a whole is great. Not here will you find the ever-more-popular dissonance of the present day, these riffs are posessed of classic cold melodicism and black metal fury. Instrumental sections aid in creating an epic and almost melancholy atmosphere that subversively permeates throughout, felt most strongly within tracks like ‘Bonded’ where sorrowful guitars weave swaying melodies perfectly complimented by Ares’ dulcet bass tones. V-Rex has mentioned the album was released partially as a memorial to Grim and he puts on a masterful performance on the drums here, propelling the songs to glory. Vocals howl and shriek then bellow in experimental death sections; whilst the raw and slightly odd production creates the perfect mix of intrigue and atmosphere.
Something like this can be hard to review objectively. Enjoyment is largely subjective and relative to the listener, which becomes even more the case once albums reach a certain vintage. To some it’s destined to be seen as a simple curio or solid enough relic of a bygone era; to others it will be an unearthed black gem, unpolished and rough around the edges yet of incalculable value to those who appreciate its rare beauty. Would it have done well if released twenty years ago? In a time when future classics of the genre were being created every other day; yes, it certainly would have been noticed and settled in comfortably between the Filosofems and Stormblasts, carving its own niche. Does it hold up being released today? Give it a listen and find out.
V-Rex discussing the release of ‘Nocturno Inferno’:
Purchase digital copies from Amazon here.
Stream Örth on Soundcloud here.
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