Album Title: Daughters Of The Night
Label: Scarlet Records
Date of Release: 21 January 2022
Today’s review is one of those ‘discoveries’ that I made when undertaking one of my famed late-night trawls through my promo accounts. Of all the genres of heavy music that I like, I’d place Gothic, symphonic metal lower down the list. I hate the term ‘female fronted’ because it sets the wrong tone, so I would prefer to refer to Nocturna as a symphonic power metal band with strong Gothic tendencies. It just so happens though, that the unique selling point for Nocturna is the fact that they have two vocalists, Grace Darkling and Rehn Stillnight, one operatic (Stillnight), one more traditionally ‘metal’ in delivery (Darkling).
Apparently, the band was created by Federico Mondelli (Frozen Crown, Volturian, Be The Wolf) but unless he goes by the pseudonym ‘Hedon’, his only involvement with Nocturna is the cover artwork. Joining guitarist Hedon, is bassist Antares and drummer Deimos. In videos that have been released, the three musicians behind the vocalists wear masks to cover their true identities, so it could literally be anyone under there.
Whoever they are, they make a decent racket, it must be said. After the ubiquitous instrumental intro, ‘Spectral Ruins’ I was ready to move on swiftly. The dark, Gothic, cinematic affair didn’t grab me and my mind started to wander elsewhere. And then ‘New Evil’ took over and to my shock and dismay, I didn’t immediately recoil from what I heard. An urgent lead guitar riff kicks things off before the symphonic arrangements join with an upbeat, galloping tempo. The music carries with it a decent heaviness, with the bass rumbling authoritatively, whilst the drumming is sharp and rather interesting. The vocal interplay between Darkling and Stillnight is also more engaging than I initially feared it might be too. I like the fact that you have the mix of styles that actually complement each other; the attitude and grit, counterbalanced by the smooth, soaring operatic delivery. Had it just been one or the other, I’d have more than likely got bored very quickly. Add to this a genuinely catchy and engaging chorus and my attention is well and truly caught.
If anything, the follow-up, ‘Daughters Of The Night’ is even heavier. Being the Man Of Much Metal, I welcome this revelation. The drumming in particular impresses me on this song, as does the lightning fast and chunky riffing that then gives way to an equally ripping solo whilst the pace of the song barely drops below ‘very brisk’. The melodies are pleasing to the ear too, making it two very solid tracks straight off the bat.
A word at this point to the production, which I also like. For once, I’m treated to a symphonic metal album that accentuates the metal portion of the material, rather than diluting it within the orchestral arrangements. You can also hear each of the instruments clearly, Antares’ bass never lost within the mix, further underlining the ‘heavy’ credentials of Nocturna.
The quality of music continues with ‘The Sorrow Path’ which, for the first time, sees the intensity lowered in favour of a slower ballad number. However, the vocals are really great from both singers, whilst the soundscape is rather majestic and full of pleasing melody. Yes, it’s a bit sugary, but it works and I really enjoy it.
The note of caution at this point in my review would be that Nocturna aren’t apparently interested in creating something massively original. You could liken moments within ‘Daughters Of The Night’ to most of the usual suspects that crop up when faced with music of this kind. And the fact that the press release suggests that Nocturna should appeal to fans of Nightwish, Within Temptation, and Epica amongst others, it suggests that the record label tend to agree. However, as I’ve stated in reviews previously, there is nothing wrong with not being original if the music that’s created is of a high standard. And in my opinion, Nocturna have created some great music here. In fact, ‘Daughters Of The Night’ is arguably more enjoyable to my tastes than both recent Nightwish and Within Temptation. For me, it’s the overt crunch and heaviness of the guitars, the powerful rhythms, and the vocal variety that works best, not to mention a really nice melodic aspect, with several choruses hitting pretty hard when they emerge.
‘Blood Of Heaven’ is a quickfire number that’s got real fire in its belly, as proven by the speed and aggression on offer; the drumming is incessant, the guitars really go for the jugular, almost thrash metal in style at points, especially at the immediate outset. And yet, the orchestral elements are bombastic, whilst the chorus is one of those aforementioned catchy beasts.
Towards the end of the album, there are a couple of less vital tracks. ‘Nocturnal Whispers’ is an unnecessary instrumental interlude, and despite the urgency, the final track, ‘The Trickster’ isn’t my favourite as it’s one of the more unremarkable compositions here.
That aside, there is much to like about Nocturna and I’ve taken to it much more forcefully than I ever expected. ‘Daughters Of The Night’ is one of those albums that reminds me how good this genre of music can be when all of the elements come together properly; it’s bombastic, it’s melodic, it is full of Gothic atmosphere, and most importantly, it is easily heavy enough to deserve the ‘metal’ tag. It might not be the most original of albums, but as I said before, it doesn’t need to be because the material speaks for itself and, as a result, the album is highly enjoyable. Do yourselves a favour therefore, and hunt out Nocturna and ‘Daughters Of The Night’ because you might be as pleasantly surprised as I am. In fact, I don’t think it is unnecessary and unwarranted hyperbole on my part to suggest that it’s quite possibly the best of its kind that I’ve heard in the last year or so.
The Score of Much Metal: 85%
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