(Late October brought forth MNRK Heavy‘s release of a new album by Spanish Noctem, a band we’ve been following closely and happily for a long time, and now we catch up to the new album with this extensive review by DGR.)
Over the course of six albums Noctem have placed themselves in an interesting spot musically, where it has seemed like the only point of reference for comparison in terms of their musical history was the album prior and nothing more.
The group have gone through some sizeable leaps and shifts in their sound over the years, and many of them are well-documented on this here site. While it seemed like they may have found a niche within the black metal world with their triptych of Oblivion, Exilium, and Haeresis, the following disc The Black Consecration moved away from the overwhelming chaotic madness of those three albums and into a realm much more deep and cavernous than before.
The Black Consecration was Noctem proving their worth to the black metal abyss, and that is really the biggest point of reference when it comes to this Spanish group’s latest album, Credo Certe Ne Cras, because after the band laid their foundation through that preceding album, they have now built upon it by becoming “bigger” in just about every sense imaginable.
It can’t be stated enough that with The Black Consecration it seemed like Noctem finally became the band they were always threatening to be. Finally, the universe aligned and the group found their niche in a particular world of cavernous black metal. Credo Certe Ne Cras, then, is the extension of those ideas.
If you loved The Black Consecration and wanted to hear every idea on that release expanded upon and extended outwards, then this may be the album for you. Extended so much, in fact, that it’s almost eleven minutes longer than its predecessor. When you’re dealing with music as dedicated to the void as this, that can be a lot to ask. Noctem at least seem to have recognizes this and tried their damndest to make it so that every song within Credo Certe Ne Cras remains distinct from the one before it, and most of the time they find success with that.
It’s immediately noticeable just how much the two albums share, even with a three-year gap between them. The guitar riff style between the two is shared, as Noctem make another trip to the cauldrons of the ultra-kvlt when it comes to black metal, and vocalist Beleth is more than happy to continue sounding like a beast echoing down from the rafters while the band play below him. The drum work is just as blast-happy as ever but what is more noticeable this time is that the band spend less time in a cavernous mix than the album before. You can pick up things a little clearer than before, and there’s even some bass rumble that works its way into the armageddon battle that many of these songs become.
Noctem‘s overall theming on Credo Certe Ne Cras seems to have them fully infernal, bathed in flames, and aiming to be as epic as they can about it. The opening moments of the album during “I Am Alpha” – which was one of the lead singles for this release – have the band joined by backing choirs for a brief moment, in an early sign that Noctem are going to add a whole bunch of different instrumentation to the mix this time. The tradional abyss tour that was The Black Consecration is amplified here.
The first few songs follow a similar track. “I Am Alpha”, “Sovereign Of Providence”, and “Sanctum Of Anguish” all seem to be a in a battle, trying to out-heavy each other. “Sovereign Of Providence”, for instance, opens in a high-speed assault and keeps planted there for most of its five-minutes. “Sanctum Of Anguish”, on the other hand, slowly works its way there and at the very least has an opening moment of melodic calm.
The cleaned-up guitar in that opening segment may actually catch you off guard at first given just how fast and hard Noctem are hitting in the opening tracks. “Sanctum Of Anguish” also may be one of the more fitting song titles on the release, given that Noctem sound like a band fighting through their own personal hells on the song – which has become a much larger trend within the black metal subgenre in recent years.
It would take a struggle not to highlight the album’s title track, and frankly we’re just not up to that fight. “Credo Certe Ne Cras” (the song) is where the feeling that Noctem sought to write an epic disc this time around reaches fruition. The earlier three within the album are clear demonstrations that the band aren’t afraid to experiment and show that not everything is one dense block of screaming, but “Credo Certe Ne Cras” is cinematic in scope by comparison. Noctem pack a ton into the song, and even though it’s not the longest one on the album – dwarfed by closer “We Are Omega” by a whole 11 seconds, opener “I Am Alpha” by nearly a minute, and “The Pale Moon Rite” by a similar time – it certainly plays out like one of the biggest.
The aforementioned opening and closing songs on this release get much of their weight by just being relentless. “Credo Certe Ne Cras” goes for the “everything and the kitchen sink” approach and manages to make the whole album turn around it from there.
“The Pale Moon Rite” picks up on that particular arc and is another equally big song, with the four-and-a-half minute blaster of “Homilia Of Punishment” splitting the two like a surgical strike. “The Pale Moon Rite” will likely have a lot of appeal for those who like a little swaying groove in their black metal.
If you’re in the hunt for the machine-gun-spray style of songs to break things up in the latter half of the album, then you’ll certainly be struck by songs like “Homilia Of Punishment” and “Ceremonial Miasma”, but the actual weapon is “The Tolling Of The Nine Bells”, which is probably the most straightforward volley of music that Noctem have on Credo Certe Ne Cras. It’s the most recognizably “black metal” song too, in an album that has taken its black metal ambitions into the realm of the grandiose.
“Ceremonial Miasma” lays the groundwork for the closing song on this album by mowing down everything in front of it. It is a massive sounding song full of death metal drilling that feels a little like a throwback into Noctem‘s earlier blackened-death metal days when they were aiming for large songs and then spent following albums slowly sculpting that back into an almost surgical-strike battlecat that could’ve gotten into a knife-fight with Anaal Nathrakh.
Every year for heavy metal is a pretty good year in terms of the Satan-harvest, but 2022’s passing October was particularly bountiful with Noctem adding to the overall collection. Credo Certe Ne Cras is Noctem firing on all cylinders, so much of it will be pretty recognizable for long-time fans. They’re a group who’ve had large ambitions over the years and while they’ve spent some of the preceding releases stripping a lot of it back and then fully launching themselves into the abyss, Credo Certe Ne Cras is the group grasping back onto some of those ambitions. It’s a long album and one that’s packed full of different elements to go alongside every fiery blast of music that the band discharge.
In short, Credo Certe Ne Cras is a good continuation of where the band were headed on The Black Consecration, organically expanding upon much of it and then blowing it all to bits any time they can unleash hell upon the drumkit.