Nocturna is the newly formed Euro-Metal creation that harnesses the power of dual founders and frontwomen Grace Darkling and Rehn Stillnight. Combining powerful, Angelic vocals and outstanding personas, their debut album titled “Daughters of the Night”is one of class and distinction. Frozen Crown/Volturian/Be The Wolf’s mastermind Federico Mondelli is behind the album artwork, inspired by the aesthetics of Japanese Kabuki theater that is also displayed throughout the band.
Nocturna combines elements of Gothic Symphonic and Power Metal, switching between fast, spine-snapping verses and harmonious, piano-based ballads. A challenge easy to be undertaken with the guitar skills of Hedon, the rapid pace of drummer Deimos, and the sound that combines it all as done by bassist Antares. There are noted touches of refinement in their romantic lyrics that often portray Miltonian landscapes, and decadence in their range.
The album begins by creating atmosphere, such as on the track “Spectral Ruins” – we are led through the fog-ridden catacombs of some forgotten cemetery. Fractured statues and moss-covered mausoleums are illuminated by fading torchlight. We pursue a sound – a faint chanting that has echoed to us long ago. It’s sound rises, filling our ears with nothing more than its beckoning. We are drawn to the ring of violins, and the feeling of dread finally sinks in.
“New Evil” begins with absolute righteous guitar skill, hammering us down with drums that seem to come from every angle. The heavy bass keeps us in place as we are absolutely overwhelmed by the beat of the music. It’s powerful, and addictive, with the notion of head-banging immediately overtaking your mind. Vocals rise, gently, with elegant perfection before strengthening in Grace and Rehn’s flawless duality. It’s an excellent introductory track to not only grab your attention but, hold it in place for its duration.
“Daughters of the Night” continues with the same strength, pulling the eerie howls of the first track back into the background before igniting a fire of heavy drums and brilliant haste. The instrumental execution is unmatched, with the siren-like vocals of Rehn and Grace carefully laying atop the speed without missing a beat. It’s filled with passion, intensity, and beauty reminiscent of classic Nightwish songs like “The Pharaoh Sails to Orion” and “Wishmaster”.
The fourth track, “The Sorrow Path” brings in the command of talented keyboards with Phantom of the Opera vibes that are classical and yet seem to hold something waiting in the shadows. Vocals are delicate and light, falling upon our ears like a long-lost memory as the music cascades around us. There’s a beautiful duet between Rehn and Grace that, instead of balancing their power, pits them against one another. The back and forth, highs and lows, in a gentle battle come to an embrace for the chorus before once more building on their dueling voices and it’s stunning. Within a few listens it quickly fell into one of my favourite tracks from this album.
“Sea of Fire” provides an excellent placeholder; a reminder of the gentleness that can come from songs like “The Sorrow Path” and the power that comes from others like “New Evil”. It’s classic, and calm but, doesn’t seem to stand out like the others. Especially when dropped before a track like “Blood of Heaven”.
The sixth track, and central to the album, is the rapid-fire song “Blood of Heaven” which brings in the full intensity of Power Metal that this band puts beneath its name. Vocals are high while instrumentals are completely unhinged. Drums pelt us like ice, with riffs that crumble upon us like an avalanche. It’s feverish, with mind-warping guitar solos, and exactly the kind of track this album needs to pull you back into its spectral embrace.
Tracks like “In This Tragedy” and “Darkest Days” provide a beautiful display of the vocal capabilities both Rehn and Grace have harnessed. There are miraculous highs, and deepened lows that echo into the night like the twin songs of a Nightingale and a Snowy Owl.
We’re once more eluded in the instrumental track “Nocturnal Whispers” where our journey to discover the source of these beautiful chants brings us deeper into the maze of ruins and horror. If something shifts from the darkness, was it your imagination or was it something more sinister? Pianos build the atmosphere of this track, once again bringing the image of a forgotten Masquerade to the front of our minds and filling the broken catacombs with the images of dancing ghosts, and spectral entertainers. It’s enchanting, and frightening but, you cannot look away.
The closure of this album is epic, with a track called “The Trickster” that is perfectly introduced with its previous symphonic track. Blasting drums pierce through the veil of ghostly imagery to make our bodies sway. Echoing bass rings out throughout the track, while guitars play off careful vocal cues to wrap everything into this powerful yet, melodic track. The duality thatNocturna portrays itself as having command over is perfectly executed on this track with Grace and Rehn reaching a harmony that is unparalleled.
Nocturna’s “Daughters of the Night” is an excellent refresher to what Gothic Metal should sound like. With touches of Powerwolf, Within Temptation and Epica, it’s hard not to become absolutely addicted to this album and many of its imaginatively immersive tracks. For myself, I’ll have “The Trickster” and “The Sorrow Path” on repeat for quite some time.
Release Date: January 22nd, 2022
Label: Scarlet Records
1.) Spectral Ruins
2.) New Evil
3.) Daughters of the Night
4.) The Sorrow Path
5.) Sea of Fire
6.) Blood of Heaven
7.) In This Tragedy
8.) Darkest Days
9.) Nocturnal Whispers
10.) The Trickster