I’ve always found gothic metal to be, much like viking or pagan metal, a phrase that is more evocative of a specific feel rather than a genre with finite boundaries. It’s one of those styles that manages to fit a deceptively diverse array of bands under its umbrella; Type O Negative, Moonspell, and The Vision Bleak differ greatly from a purely mechanical standpoint, yet the thick, gloomy atmosphere is ever present. The feeling is like a jaunt through a misty graveyard at witching hour, but while some outfits give the impression of a troop of grave robbers unearthing supernatural horrors from the soil with violent force, others seem merely content to casually stroll among the tombstones while soaking in the atmosphere. London, England based Light of the Morning Star certainly falls into the latter camp on its debut album Nocta. This one man band pairs classically gothic themes (including vampirism and the occult) with influences from several associated music styles, and while the mood feels authentic, the compositions are nearly as barebones as the graveyard’s permanent residents.

Ah, but that atmosphere! Though sole member O-A has his black nail polish-encrusted heart placed firmly in gothic metal, he also pulls in elements of deathrock and black metal to create a soundscape that’s initially intriguing. Dissonant power chord drives and melodic lead guitar lines serve as Nocta’s muscle, while also squeezing in supporting piano and cello performances. The effect these components have is subtle, but when paired with the droning background vocals they conjure a heavy, gloomy air that effectively suits LotMS’s style. The song-to-song tempo and stylistic variations are pleasant as well; while tracks like “Serpent Lanterns” and “Ophidian” drive forward at a brisk, punkish clip, “Grey Carriages” and “Lord of All Graves” plod along with a notable doom influence that helps them stand out from the rest of the record. With nine tracks spread across thirty seven minutes, O-A has managed to write a fairly diverse yet concise record.

Though initially enjoyable, it takes a mere second spin for the mist of my first impression to clear and expose Nocta’s glaring songwriting problems. Most notably, the structures are painfully simplistic; after reaching the chorus of each song, the listener may as well skip to the next track, as no evolution is made nor climaxes built towards after the conclusion of the first refrain. I’m not opposed to pop song structures existing in metal, but they’re nothing without energy, and LotMS feels constantly lethargic. The blame is split evenly between the riffless rhythm guitar work and the droning, melody deprived vocals. O-A’s deep intonations are rooted in deathrock and are intended to sound ominous (or perhaps sexy), but his vocals are delivered in a monotone manner that’s lacking in both hooks and passion. I’ve put an honest effort into letting Nocta’s atmosphere fully envelop me in the way O-A intended, but the songwriting is so disengaging that I never had a desire to return to it outside of my obligations to this site.

Despite my indifference towards it, there is one song on this record that serves as a decent example of what Nocta could have been with a bit more care. “Five Point Star,” the record’s closing track, showcases promising gothic hooks; the lead guitar in the verse weaves through the other instruments like tendrils of sulfuric smoke, and the chorus contains an actual vocal melody that’s both memorable and moody. Other tracks take a stab at this caliber of lead guitar work, but fail to grab my attention (the annoying wobbling between two notes on “Serpent Lanterns” comes to mind). This thing is also mastered way too loud, but at least the mix allows the bass to be heard clearly. With a guitar tone suited for black metal and a drum sound tailored for punk, Nocta‘s sound is an appropriate fit for LotMS’ fusion of genres.

As background music on a rainy night, Light of the Morning Star may prove itself a decent fit for devoted goth-heads; the atmosphere is consistently thick, and the tones utilized support it effectively. For pretty much everyone else, though, Nocta will likely come across as a series of half-baked ideas in need of some extra time to ripen in O-A’s thought coffin. There’s certainly potential here, but without an effective skeleton to bolster the mood, LotMS is a project likely to remain in the shadows of the underground.

Rating: 2.0/5.0
DR: 5 | Format Reviewed: 256 kbps mp3
Label: Iron Bonehead Productions
Websites: lightofthemorningstar.bandcamp.com  | facebook.com/lightofthemorningstar
Releases Worldwide: March 3rd, 2017

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  • Thatguy

    Great album art though.

    As for the music, yet again, lack of bandmates syndrome.

    • herrschobel

      yeah great art…and look how easily you can turn it into a Video !

    • Carlos Marrickvillian

      Was about to make exact same comment.

    • sir_c

      what do you mean? he called all his five friends, but they all died of suicide.

    • I’d recommend Morning Star Rise by House of Capricorn for an example of this sound done better…

  • Thorbjørn Thaarup

    Some kind of a poor man’s Tiamat to be honest. Decent in the background.

    • sir_c

      ha ha I hear what you just said. Can’t unhear anymore :-)

  • Their Cemetery Glow EP, released in late June of last year, was very good, with evocative gloomy melodies (look it up on Iron Bonehead’s bandcamp). Nocta, however, sounds a wee bit uninspired and apathetic in comparison. I’ve only heard it once so far though, so don’t take my word for anything but the EP.

    Also, for me, the zenith of gothic metal was with very early Sins of thy Beloveth, Theatre of Tragedy and Tristania, as the term Gothic just suited their expressions perfectly.

    • The combination of gothic with elements from deathrock looked promising (the black metal influences less so), but even the EP doesn’t do much for me. Good enough as background music, but that’s it.

      BTW, there isn’t much ‘late’ Sins Of Thy Beloved, is there?

      • Oh, well. To each their own taste.

        Nah, Sins Of Thy Beloved died out quite fast, but not before changing a wee bit overnight. Perpetual Desolation wasn’t bad, but like the rest of the scene, I felt that it was moving in a more glossy direction (in lack of a better word).

        Speaking of black metal influences; Myriads mixed the whole gothic death/doom style with black vox on their debut.

        • Hulksteraus

          The 3rd and the Mortal could be added to that list. Although they are not Beauty and the Beast, they have some eerie atmosphere and definite gothic themes, until they went off reservation.

          • Absolutely. They had a nice folkloric air of gothic fairy-tale.

        • I expected something as catchy as Sleep of Monsters, but this was too monotonous for me, especially the vocals. I will give Myriads a listen, though.

          I agree that both records from the SotB sound quite different, and that the first is the best, but I just thought that splitting a career of 2 albums in 3 years into early and late might be a bit overdoing it. Technically it’s correct, of course.

          • It was a bit overdone, I’ll admit to that, but the “whole” scene (which was really quite small) went through this change that left me rather disappointed. That’s really the ‘before’ and ‘after’ that is stuck in my weary long time memory.

    • madhare

      I fully endorse your list of top gothic metal, but I’d like to point out that those are all more or less beauty-and-the-beast bands. Which to me is only one aspect of gothic.

      To me, Moonspell’s Irreligious is one of the highest peaks of gothic metal, although it has nothing to do with beauty-and-the-beast. Type O Negative’s October Rust comes close, but has a more urban feeling than purely gothic.

      • I absolutely agree. I just feel that beauty-and-the-beast resonate best with the whole gothic vibe. That said, as you point out, there are many other styles that has a gothic flair, as described in your examples.Urban Gothic, now that’s a nifty description of Type O.

    • DrewMusic

      I fully endorse your lists of all things, always. Assuming this is the same Gorger of NCS, I want to say thank you for your 3 part list of 2016 awesomeness. I discovered sooooo much incredible shit throughout that read. Behexen alone, holy fuck… anyway, thanks for doing what you do, you’re kind of great at it.

      • Yes, I frequently embarrass myself in the commentary section there as well, and occasionally do a guest piece. Just glad you’re as enthusiastic about the music as I am. Behexen was fucking awesome.

      • The Unicorn

        ToT Aegis is one of my fav albums ever. Good call indeed.

        • DrewMusic

          Not to take away from this site in any way, it being more or less the entirety of my faith in humanity and all, but I think I might have found more (personal) 4.0’s+ in that one/three list/s alone than I have here in at least 2 years, it was like fucking Christmas on steroids.

  • Chris

    Gothic metal has always been a niche guilty pleasure of mine, and I’m always on the lookout for bands to scratch that particular itch. As much as I adore “October Rust”, one can only listen to it so many times before needing some variety, ya know?

    Sounds like this particular album won’t do it, but if you’ve got any other recommendations, I’m all ears. I got into The Vision Bleak last year (thanks to AMG), and need more. MOAR!!

    • I’ve spent every year since Peter Steele’s death trying to find something to scratch that Type O Negative itch.

      Aside from The Vision Bleak, I’d recommend:
      -Moonspell: Irreligious, Darkness and Hope, The Antidote, Omega White.
      -The House of Capricorn: Morning Star Rise.
      -Paradise Lost: Draconian Times, then everything from their 2005 self-titled release until now.
      -Forgotten Tomb: Under Saturn Retrograde.
      -Dommin: Love is Gone.
      -November’s Doom: Aphotic, and still going through their backcatalogue to find the best ones…

      -Never really been able to get into My Dying Bride. I don’t mind A Line of Deathless Kings or 34.788% Complete, but most of the time the singer’s voice grates on me…

      If anyone has any other recommendations, let me know!

      • Sean Sky

        I don’t know much about this genre either but The Vision Bleak really caught my interest with The Unknown. Thanks for providing some stuff to check out; adding them all to my list.

  • The Unicorn
  • OzanCan

    I kinda like this :)

  • sir_c

    Must say, in the mist of some heavy stout beers, it doesn’t sound that bad. I think I’ll re-listen tomorrow for a final opinion :-)

  • Dudeguy Jones

    I think theres a lot of good ideas here. Some of it reminds me of Breastmilk if they’d conjured the sepulchral instead of the apocalyptic.

    I do think it could have used a bit of chilling psych freakout shit to make a few of the songs build more.