Having released their last album in 2007, Norwegian thrash metal band Nocturnal Breed comes back seven years later with their new album Napalm Nights. The album features a guest lineup, including vocalist/lead guitarist Nocturno Culto of Darkthrone and various members from Satyricon, Aeternus and Gehenna. It also brings back veteran guitarists I. Maztor and A.E. Rattlehead. There’s no doubt Napalm Nights brings intensity and modern innovation from mixing an older style of metal with audio samples and structured guitar riffs. However, certain tracks tend to drag on and lose my interest throughout the album.
The album opens with the heavy track “The Devil Swept the Ruins”. Nocturnal Breed doesn’t waste any time giving thrash metal band lovers what they enjoy: fast-paced drum patterns and heavy guitar solos. However, the track isn’t just composed of fast-paced strumming and chaotic guitar riffs; it also has a healthy balance of melodic feels that make the chord progressions sound natural. Achieving an equilibrium like that requires quite a bit of experience in the world of metal, and is a feat worth noting.
The band takes a modern twist on thrash metal with audio samples of World War II-type dialogue in “Speedkrieg”. This track tends to stick out the most for me in terms of differentiation. The war audio sample fits perfectly with the theme of the album as a whole. Frontman S.A. Destroyer’s bellowing vocal delivery fits perfectly with the theme, making this song among the strongest on the album.
“Napalm Nights” features moments of brilliance with more audio samples and melodic guitar riffs. The undertone audio samples of gunshots and thunder throughout deserve credit within themselves. However, the track has a hard time keeping my attention for its nearly 13-minute entirety. There’s no doubt its theme has a massive creative foundation to stand on. However, when something is repeated too many times it loses its meaning.
The album regains my attention again with the track “Under the Whip”. S.A. alters his vocal style slightly in the beginning with distorted and raspy speaking. This style changes drastically when the chorus comes up to give the listener an idea of how big his vocal range is. The simple change of a shift in vocal styles makes “Under the Whip” stand out from many others on the album. A similar shift can also be heard in the beginning of “Dragging the Priests”.
There’s a lot for Nocturnal Breed to be proud of in the theme and the structure of Napalm Nights as a whole. The audio samples woven in between melodic guitar riffs and high octave vocals put a modern twist on the album compared to more thrash metal-driven tracks like “The Bitch of Buchenwald”. I think more innovative style shifts would have strengthened various parts of the album and broken up some monotony in some of the lengthier tracks. However, Napalm Nights is still pretty solid within the thrash metal scene.