Nocturnal Breed are everything I’ve ever wanted to be in this life. They’re old-school, they don’t give a shit about anybody or anything, and they’re Norwegian. Making their start with ‘97’s Aggressor, these hateful sonsabitches haven’t changed a goddamn thing in over twenty years. Their albums are way too long,1 there’s no fluidity from one track to the next, and they’re still kicking the combination of Bathory, Venom, and Motörhead mixed with first-wave black metal and thrash. Though their style has become more adventurous these days,2 these stripper-loving bastards are still (mostly) relevant. So, what’s in store for us this time around? Is We Only Came for Violence old-school black-thrash that makes Aura Noir look like ninnies? Are there more Motörheadaches and Venomous spite? Regardless, it’ll still deliver the ole Nocturnal Breed goods.
If you’ve never heard Nocturnal Breed, their first two records—Aggressor and No Retreat… No Surrender3—are glorious, black-thrash nightmares. There’s surprising heaviness, filthy licks, and unhinged vox that attack like a pitchfork to a steaming pile of shit. The band has been turning over this fly-infested pile of manure since ’98, exposing new sights, smells, and tastes to their fecaled work. For me, the band’s last great work was Fields of Rot. With ten tracks that never stop putting out and a concise thirty-two-minute runtime, Fields is the band’s Reign in Blood. It saw Venom, old-school Bathory, and a good dose of Motörhead4 filing its ranks. Then the band decided that they needed a polar opposite in the sixty-two minute Napalm Nights.5 Unfortunately, Napalm tries too hard and feels like a collection of songs rather than a full album.
That said, one minute into WOCfV and it already has me by the balls as I “Choke on Blood.” The frenzy of killer riffs and venomous spit set the mood for pure destruction. With the same ball-busting qualities, “Frozen to the Cross” and the back-to-back thunderers, “Limbs of Gehenna” and “War-Metal Engine,” destroy all in their paths. Each load-up with devastating blackened thrash, a shit ton of old-school energy, and memorable choruses via S. A. Destroyer’s unforgettable rasps and gargles. Chuck in some Darkthroney vibes to “War-Metal Engine” and “Frozen to the Cross,” in particular, and you’ve got yourself some true album staples.
Yet, it’s numbers like “Bless the Whore,” “Sharks of the Wehrmacht,”6 “Can’t Hold Back the Night,” and “We Only Came for the Violence” that sink their teeth into my finely-sculpted shoulders. The first is a goddamn black-thrash statement piece that proves Nocturnal Breed can still sucker punch you in a back alley and steal your beer. The title track, on the other hand, shows the band in their other light: worshiping Quorthon’s debut and anything Lemmy brought to this worthless planet. Not quite as good as the Motörhead-esque pieces of previous releases,7 this is still a fun track. But the roller coaster isn’t over as the band introduces the NWOBHM-inspired “Can’t Hold Back the Night” and the ’80s creeper, “Sharks of the Wehrmacht”—which sees Destroyer seeking King Diamond highs. Both are the oddballs of the album but entertaining enough to keep me coming back.
Though I’m partial to the nonstop beast that is Fields of Rot, this new outing has redeemed the band of the swollen Napalm Nights. Though it’s not of the writing caliber of Fields or No Retreat…, WOCfV is a solid outing with a lot of spontaneity (“Sharks of the Wehrmacht,” “A Million Miles of Trench,” and “Can’t Hold Back the Night”), if it is still plagued by filler (“Nekrohagel,” “Desecrator,” and “Cannibalized by Fear”). What you end up with is an album the fans and the select handful of newbies will dig. If you black-thrashers out there haven’t heard Nocturnal Breed, pull your heads out of your asses and give ’em a try.
- Minus 2007’s Fields of Rot. ↩
- See the bloated pieces and Abbath-meets-Motörhead character of 2014’s Napalm Nights. ↩
- Ignore the fact that No Retreat… has the worst album cover of all time. ↩
- See the badass “Iron Bitch.” ↩
- I’m not gonna lie, I’ve never listened to this album in one sitting. ↩
- Wehrmacht‘s “Shark Attack”? ↩
- Again, “Iron Bitch.” ↩