I’ll always consider myself a student of heavy metal rather than an expert, but sometimes I’m still boggled by the bands that manage to fly below my radar. Case in point; I was entirely unfamiliar with Norwegian blackened thrash outfit Nocturnal Breed until the fine folks at Fresno Media put them right under my nose. Surprising considering my fondness for this type of thing, but better late than never, because their latest album Napalm Nights totally rips.
Nocturnal Breed plays a lacerating brand of black thrash that also draws influence from the NWOBHM and classic heavy metal in addition to the usual suspects. I typically consider the Australians to be the masters of this style, but Nocturnal Breed give ’em a run for their money, replacing bestial ugliness with mostly mid-paced, surgically precise yet catchy riffing and a slightly demented edge thanks to bassist S.A. Destroyer’s unique vocal approach. The band even unleashes a full-on epic in the form of the title track, a twelve minute beast that explores the filthy underbelly of the Vietnam War. Indeed, Nocturnal Breed stick to the classic lyrical themes of war, evil women and thrashing, but they attack the music with enough attitude and intensity to keep things fresh.
Surprisingly, Napalm Nights benefits from a highly polished production scheme, but don’t let that fact lead you to believe that this is a Dimmu Borgir album. Destroyer’s shrieks sound like Lemmy possessed by Satan, and guitarists Axeman I. Maztor and V. Fineideath bring the nasty-ass buzzsaw riffs, imbuing the recording with rough edges aplenty in spite of the crystal clear sound quality. Imagine early Motörhead duking it out with Venom and Mercyful Fate, but with better sound, and you’re at least partway there.
The album runs a little long at just over an hour, but this is a minor complaint given the quality found throughout. Fans of everything from oldschool German thrash to young whippersnappers like Midnight, Toxic Holocaust and Children of Technology would do well to check this out. After just a few spins you’ll learn to love the smell of napalm at night.