Nocturnus – The Science of Horror

February 13, 2015 –

nocturnus-the_science_of_horror

Early death metal barely made it out of the shadow of speed metal before. We call it speed metal, not thrash, because it was a direct extension of NWOBHM using some punk technique, not an outright punk hybrid like thrash. Speed metal represents one of the most varied sub-genres in metal, running the gamut from percussive (Exodus) through traditional (Metallica) and all the way to adventurous stuff like Voivod, Anacrusis, Coroner and Sacrifice. It is in that latter category that The Science of Horror begins.

This demo re-issue will be — for now — limited to 100 copies pressed to vinyl that incorporate two demos, The Science of Horror (1988) and Nocturnus (1987). These show both a band looking for a balance between the early death/speed hybrids and its future as a technical death metal band, and the personal vision that Mike Browning has been refining since this time through the present day with his current band, After Death. This vision unites the progressive with morbid rock and extremity, aiming for a theatrical presentation as much as musical obscurity, and never afraid — unlike too many prog bands — to use a primitive riff where it is effective. Like many progressive-inspired bands, there is a high degree of internal variation in these demos, Nocturnus and After Death, used like an ancient storyteller might use an extensive vocabulary. The theatrical nature of this approach means that the songs on these demos, which are mostly duplicative, take an atmospheric approach to a genre in transition that was otherwise more inclined toward all-ahead aggression. But like Anacrusis, Voivod and Coroner, Nocturnus adapted its songs to use both death metal technique and speed metal but creating a sense of rhythm of its own that emphasized frequent transitions and complex patterns without drifting into other known genres.

Several of the song segments used here show similarity to what appeared on Morbid Angel’s early work, notably its 1986 Abominations of Desolation, and feature the same flexible rhythm that nonetheless approximates the chorus rhythm without doing so in trope, leaving plenty of space for instruments to work independently. Like speed metal, much of this material aims for discrete chords in repetitive patterns, but especially on the second demo, use of tremolo to create smooth transitions gives this material a new aura of mystery and suspension of belief. As a document of early death metal, The Science of Horror both emphasizes the creative possibilities of metal at the time and reminds us how weirdness was once more front and center and how it did the genre well. On another level, this music provides pleasurable listening at the nexus not only of two genres but also several compositional styles, and the change from the first to later demo shows the incorporation of keys in the way that would later define Nocturnus and be expanded to become a fundamental part of the technique as a way of creating spacious, atmospheric death metal. With any luck, this pressing of the demos will see CD release later this year, as despite being the same tracks twice this recording serves well for casual listening as well as historical examination of death metal.

Tracklist
The Science of Horror Demo 2 (1988)
1. Before Christ – After Death
2. Standing in Blood
3. Neolithic
4. Undead Journey
Nocturnus Demo 1 (1987)
5. Nocturnus
6. B.C. – A.D.
7. The Entity
8. Unholy Fury

Personnel
Tracks 1-4:
Mike Browning: Drums, Vocals
Mike Davis: Guitars
Louis Panzer: Keyboards
Jeff Estes: Bass
Gino Marino: Guitars
Tracks 5-8:
Mike Browning: Drums, Vocals
Richard Bateman: Bass
Vincent Crowley: Guitars
Gino Marino: Guitars

Death Melodies Series: Marin Marais

February 9, 2013 –
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Marin_Marais_2The Death Melodies Series (DMS) continues with more Baroque.

Frenchman and basse de viol master Marin Marais lived from 1656 to 1728. He was hired as a court musician for the royal court of Versailles in France. During and after his stint appeasing the wigs upstairs, he wrote numerous books for his instrument.

Not much is known of this composer’s personal life after he reached adulthood.

Ironically, former Morbid Angel and Nocturnus drummer/vocalist Mike Browning was recently hospitalized for having enormous kidney stones. His surgery to remove them was successful. Marin Marais‘ morbid work ‘The Bladder Stone Operation‘ for viol and harpsichord would have been a suiting victory soundtrack.

Q&A with Mike Browning regarding his surgery:

When did you realize something was odd in your body?

About 3 weeks ago I started getting a very bad pain on my left side, right in the area above were your leg and body meet. This is the 3rd time I have had kidney stones, so instantly I knew what it was. The pain got so bad though that I had to go to the emergency room!

How long did the procedure last?

They used a laser on me to crush up one large and several small stones in my left kidney, the whole procedure lasted almost 3 hours, luckily I was under anesthesia!

What type of medication did the doctors give you after the surgery?

They only gave me a bottle of hydrocodone 5 mg, which is not much more than taking a couple aspirins!

Did you at any point think about Marin Marais while you were hospitalized?

No, until now I have never heard of Marin Marais! The only thing I thought about was pain and when it would all be over!!!

Mike Browning prepping for surgery.

kidney stoneLe Tableau De L’Operation De La Taille (in 17th Century French)

L’aspect de l’apareil – Fremißement en le voyant – Resolution pour y monter – Parvenu jusqu’au hault – descente dudit apareil – Reflexions serieuses – Entrelaßement des soyes – entre les bras et les jambes – Icy se fait l’incision – Introduction de la tenette – Icy lon tire la piere – Icy lon perd quasi la voyes – Ecoulement du sang – Icy lon osteles soyes – Icy lon vous transporte dans le lit.

English Translation:

The depiction of a waist surgery – The appearance of the operating table – A shudder on seeing it – Determination when mounting it – Climbing in – Climbing out and dismounting – Grave thoughts – Knotting the silk restrains for arms and legs – Then the incision is made – Introduction of the forceps – Then the stone is drawn – Then you nearly lose your voice – Blood flows – Then the silks are unknotted – Then you are taken to bed.

Here we have a viola da gamba and harpsichord performing Marin Marais‘ bladder stone song.

Aside from composing about his own surgical encounters, Marin Marais was also very proficient at creating a simple motif and building complex structures upon it.