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NOCTURNUS

Tech/Extreme Prog Metal • United States


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Nocturnus biography
NOCTURNUS are an American progressive death metal act formed in Tampa, Florida in 1987 by drummer/ vocalist Mike Browning. Mike Browning had been a member of MORBID ANGEL from 1984-1986 ( check "Abominations of Desolation" (1991) by MORBID ANGEL to hear his contributions to that band) and when he left MORBID ANGEL he formed INCUBUS. INCUBUS turned out to be a shortlived affair though and Mike Browning left the band to form NOCTURNUS. INCUBUS guitarist Gino Marino also joined NOCTURNUS and played on both the 1987 "Nocturnus" demo and the 1988 "The Science of Horror" demo before he left the band. The lineup on the first demo also included guitarist Vincent Crowley who would later form death metal act ACHERON and bassist Richard Bateman who would later join NASTY SAVAGE. The first demo was in old school death metal style and the lyrics were based on occultism. the 1988 "The Science of Horror" demo showed the first signs of the style that NOCTURNUS would be known for. With three new members ( guitarist Mike Davis, bassist Jeff Estes and keyboardist Louis Panzer) in the lineup the band started incorporating sci-fi themed lyrics and musical themes into their music. NOCTURNUS is generally considered the first death metal act to include a keyboardist in the lineup.

Guitarist Gino Marino left the band after the 1988 "The Science of Horror" demo and new guitarist Sean McNenney joined. NOCTURNUS released their now classic full-length debut album "The Key" in 1990. An album that has sold around 70.000 copies worldwide. Bassist Jeff Estes was fired from the band after the recording of the album and the band hired new bassist Jim O'Sullivan. NOCTURNUS toured 1991 as support for UK death metal act BOLT THROWER and was later a part of the "Gindcrusher" tour with MORBID ANGEL, NAPALM DEATH and GODFLESH. bassist Jim O'Sullivan was fired shortly after the tour ended.

Before the band recorded their second full-lenght studio album in 1992 called "Thresholds" they decided to get a full-time vocalist so Mike Browning could concentrate on his drumming but alledgedly also because the Earache record company promised the band a music video if they got a "real" frontman instead of a drummer/ vocalist. Former TORTURED SOULS vocalist Dan Izzo joined NOCTURNUS as the new frontman. New bassist on "Thresholds" was Chris Anderson. "Thresholds" took the sci-fi theme even further. Leaving the occult themes a bit in the background. Something that would have great significance on...
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NocturnusNocturnus
MORIBUND RECORDS 2015
Audio CD$9.98
The KeyThe Key
Import
Earache 2008
Audio CD$12.99
$34.99 (used)
ThresholdsThresholds
Import
Imports 2013
Audio CD$12.99
NOCTURNUS ETHEREAL TOMBNOCTURNUS ETHEREAL TOMB
DEL IMAGINARIO DISCOS
Audio CD$4.73
$9.66 (used)
Ethereal TombEthereal Tomb
Import
Floating World 2013
Vinyl$18.99
$18.98 (used)
KeyKey
Earache Records 2014
Vinyl$22.99
Nocturnus DemosNocturnus Demos
Candlelight 2004
Audio CD$24.98
$17.99 (used)
A Farewell to Planet EarthA Farewell to Planet Earth
Multiple Formats
Season of Mist 2004
DVD$10.95
$4.99 (used)
Trinity of DeathTrinity of Death
Box set
Season of Mist 2003
Audio CD$12.99
$12.98 (used)
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NOCTURNUS discography


Ordered by release date | Showing ratings (top albums) | Help Progarchives.com to complete the discography and add albums

NOCTURNUS top albums (CD, LP, MC, SACD, DVD-A, Digital Media Download)

3.93 | 22 ratings
The Key
1990
3.51 | 11 ratings
Thresholds
1992
3.12 | 8 ratings
Ethereal Tomb
2000

NOCTURNUS Live Albums (CD, LP, MC, SACD, DVD-A, Digital Media Download)

NOCTURNUS Videos (DVD, Blu-ray, VHS etc)

NOCTURNUS Boxset & Compilations (CD, LP, MC, SACD, DVD-A, Digital Media Download)

2.03 | 3 ratings
The Nocturnus Demos
2004

NOCTURNUS Official Singles, EPs, Fan Club & Promo (CD, EP/LP, MC, Digital Media Download)

1.00 | 1 ratings
Nocturnus
1987
2.00 | 1 ratings
The Science of Horror
1988
2.06 | 3 ratings
Nocturnus
1993

NOCTURNUS Reviews


Showing last 10 reviews only
 The Key by NOCTURNUS album cover Studio Album, 1990
3.93 | 22 ratings

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The Key
Nocturnus Tech/Extreme Prog Metal

Review by Warthur
Prog Reviewer

4 stars Acquiring a record deal with Earache thanks to their association with Morbid Angel, Nocturnus took death metal in a new direction with the addition of Louis Panzer on keyboards, proving to a sceptical extreme metal audience that keyboards could be as dark, sinister, and aggressive as any guitar riff. The narrative of the album might be kind of silly and juvenile (a Terminator-esque cyborg goes back in time - his target: Baby Jesus!), but it neatly demonstrated how death metal could tell stories and, indeed, tackle the concept album format just as well as any other rock music genre, and whilst the technicality of the album isn't on the level of contemporaries like Atheist and Cynic, it's still an entertaining slice of ugly Florida death metal which makes a perfect gateway drug to more esoteric technical death efforts.

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 The Nocturnus Demos by NOCTURNUS album cover Boxset/Compilation, 2004
2.03 | 3 ratings

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The Nocturnus Demos
Nocturnus Tech/Extreme Prog Metal

Review by toroddfuglesteg

2 stars A Karmageddon Media release of their two first demos on one CD.

A good idea in fact due to the demos selling for insane money on Ebay and other places. These are the two demos which launched Nocturnus onto the scene. I cannot remember those two demos, to be honest. Malevolent Creation, Morbid Angel, Atheist and Obituary (the two latter ones in their former disguises) was the bands from Florida which made the biggest impacts at that time. But Nocturnus debut album The Key changed all that.

The two demos here is acceptable, although with demo sound. Knowing Karmageddon Media too well, I don't think they did any sound improvements before they unleashed this CD. What you get is as raw as a steak tartar, direct from the bull. The music here is good and forms the basis of The Key. Hence, if you already have that album, you can safely avoid this CD. This is a decent CD, although only a collector's item.

2 stars (barely)

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 Thresholds by NOCTURNUS album cover Studio Album, 1992
3.51 | 11 ratings

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Thresholds
Nocturnus Tech/Extreme Prog Metal

Review by toroddfuglesteg

2 stars Their debut album The Key is an excellent and genre setting album. Was it a flash in the pan, though ?

Threshold takes Nocturnus into a schience-fiction landscape. The occult stuff was left behind, in other words. The brutality and the Morbid Angel leanings from The Key was also parked. In came a very progressive sound with even some clean acoustic guitars thrown into the mix too. The synth also became a bit more prominent and the guitar solos here is pretty generic.

I think Nocturnus lost their way on Threshold. The original mix of progressive and brutality was lost. So was the sound. The sound on Threshold is pretty awful to say at least. What's left is a wishy-washy product. The quality of the songs are also pretty dire. There are some good melody lines littered around here, but that's all. Nocturnus simply lost it on this album which I cannot even call a good album. It fails on all levels and I understand why bombed compared to The Key. Hence my lack of appetite for this album.

2 stars

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 Ethereal Tomb by NOCTURNUS album cover Studio Album, 2000
3.12 | 8 ratings

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Ethereal Tomb
Nocturnus Tech/Extreme Prog Metal

Review by toroddfuglesteg

3 stars A bit of a strange album, this one. The strangeness is because it is pretty standard death metal. It is also totally unlike the two first Nocturnus albums and their demos.

Gone is Mike Browning, the founder of Nocturnus. Or sacked, to be more precise. It is my personal beliefs that it was wrong of the rest of Nocturnus to release this album under that moniker.

This album is nowhere near The Key and even further away from Threshold when it comes to the sound. When that is said, this album is not as bad as the Nocturnus EP released through Moribound Records. The death metal here is actually very good. The sound is somewhere between Death and Pestilence and gone is the Morbid Angel adulation. The material here is surprisingly good mid-brutal death metal. The guitars dominates the sound though and the synths has been pushed towards the back. There is even some clean male vocals here in addition to the customary death grunths. This is a death metal album I rate.

3 stars

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 Nocturnus by NOCTURNUS album cover Singles/EPs/Fan Club/Promo, 1993
2.06 | 3 ratings

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Nocturnus
Nocturnus Tech/Extreme Prog Metal

Review by toroddfuglesteg

2 stars Umur has already described the background for this EP and I have nothing to add there (ie he has stolen my thunder). So let's go straight to the music.

This EP contains of two pretty long death metal compositions. They both has strong Morbid Angel flavours. The opening riffs and most of Possess The Priest is a straight Morbid Angel rip off, the Altars Of Madness era. The keyboards kicks in and an schism between Nocturnus and Morbid Angel opens up. But the schism is not that wide, though. Add a small dosage of Pestilence from the Testimony of the Ancients era too and you get this song. The same also goes for the second song Mummified.

Sadly, the quality is not impressive at all. Both songs are going nowhere and it is almost a crime to release this EP under the Nocturnus name. This is not the most hopeless stuff I have ever heard, but it is still pretty lame stuff. Forget this EP and stick to both The Key and Threshold. They are miles better than this EP.

2 stars (0.5 added star 'cause I like Morbid Angel)

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 The Key by NOCTURNUS album cover Studio Album, 1990
3.93 | 22 ratings

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The Key
Nocturnus Tech/Extreme Prog Metal

Review by toroddfuglesteg

4 stars Although few people own this album, it's influence on the scene cannot be underestimated.

This is the first ever brutal metal album which incorporated keyboards in the sound. It was an eyeopener of an album. It started a new scene. In fact, I would be so frisky to say that this album is perhaps the grandfather of Progarchives Tech/Extreme Prog Metal category. No modesty, then.

Mike Browning was the drummer in the first incarnation of Morbid Angel. For reasons I have forgotten, this incarnation of Morbid Angel broke up after the recording of Abominations of Desolation (later released in 1991) and Mike Browning started out this band Nocturnus. Morbid Angel later reformed with a new lineup and unleashed their masterpiece Altars of Madness. That's the history lesson.........

To a large extent, this album pretty much sounds like a Morbid Angel album. That is, with added keyboards and some melody too. Something which also takes this album into Death, Cynic, Sadist and Pestilence territory. The songs here are all well structured although they are based in chaotic death metal. The guitars riffs is crunching heavy and the speed is at about two hundred miles an hour. The keyboards is there to add some more texture to the sound and it succeed 100 % with that task. All credits to Louis Panzer for this job here.

The quality is surprising good. The production is not particular great and a re-master which gave the sound a bit more air would had benefited this album a lot. But this album is not basement quality either. Best of all; the songs here are all great. OK, there is no real killer tracks. But the quality never dips down under great. Thankfully, there is no boring keyboards only tracks here. This album is full on death metal all the way through.

I have owned a copy of this album since the day it was released and I am actually surprised how well it has stood the test of time. I am truly impressed by this album and awards it four stars.

4 stars

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 Nocturnus by NOCTURNUS album cover Singles/EPs/Fan Club/Promo, 1993
2.06 | 3 ratings

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Nocturnus
Nocturnus Tech/Extreme Prog Metal

Review by UMUR
Special Collaborator Honorary Collaborator

2 stars Nocturnus is a 2-track, 10:33 minute long EP release by American progressive death metal act Nocturnus. The EP was released in 1993 by Moribund Records. The EP was originally released on 7īinch vinyl, but was re-released as a CD single in 2001. The Nocturnus EP was the last release by Nocturnus before they split-up the first time. Nocturnus had enjoyed great success with their two full-length studio albums The Key (1990) and Thresholds (1992) but internal turmoil within the ranks of the band meant that guitarists Mike Davis and Sean McNenney and keyboard player Louis Panzer went behind the back of drummer and founding member Mike Browning, and secured the rights to the Nocturnus name. Shortly after Mike Browning was fired from the band he had help to found. Mike Browningīs fascination with the occult supposedly didnīt fit well with the sci-fi theme that the rest of the band were aiming at.

That explanation is a bit hard to understand if you listen to the two songs on this EP though. Both Possess The Priest and Mummified are pretty old school death metal styled albeit a bit more progressive with the addition of keyboards and some technical playing. The songs also feature some pretty old school death metal lyrics. The sci-fi themes from the full-length albums are gone. While the songs are certainly well played, I canīt help but notice that the band sound a bit tired. The two songs are not that interesting either. At least compared to the brilliant material on the two full-length albums. The production is a bit sub par too.

The Nocturnus EP is not a release that makes my blood boil. Rather itīs a release that shows the end of an era for one of the most unique death metal bands from the late eighties/ early nineties. Iīm inclined to call this EP a fan release only but still I think a 2.5 star rating is deserved.

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 Thresholds by NOCTURNUS album cover Studio Album, 1992
3.51 | 11 ratings

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Thresholds
Nocturnus Tech/Extreme Prog Metal

Review by UMUR
Special Collaborator Honorary Collaborator

4 stars "Thresholds" is the 2nd full-length studio album by US, Florida based progressive death metal act Nocturnus. The album was released through Earache Records in December 1992. Thereīs been a few changes to the lineup since the release of the debut album "The Key (1990)". Bassist Jeff Estes was asked to leave alledgedly because of problems with alcohol abuse and in addition to that Earache Records put pressure on Nocturnus to find a "real" frontman. Up until then drummer Mike Browning had also taken care of the vocals. Alledgedly Earache Records promised Nocturnus that they would sponsor a promotional video for one of the songs from "Thresholds" if Mike Browning would step down from his vocal duties (they ended up making a video for "Alter Reality"). Apparently the record company felt that the drummer/vocalist constallation was a problem. Therefore former Tortured Souls vocalist Dan Izzo was brought in for the recording of "Thresholds". New bassist on the album is Chris Anderson. The ususal suspects are guitarists Mike Davis and Sean McNenney, keyboard player Louis Panzer and drummer Mike Browning.

Curiously enough the lineup changes havenīt affected Nocturnus sound notably. New vocalist Dan Izzo could easily have been mistaken for Mike Browning (which I initially did), and to be honest the bass isnīt that audible so the change of bassist doesnīt mean much to the sound either.

The music on the album is a continuation but also a progression from the semi-progressive death metal sound of "The Key". While "The Key" was split between old school occult themed death metal and progressive/futuristic sounding sci-fi themed death metal, "Thresholds" takes the band fully into the sci-fi themed progressive direction. "Thresholds" is without a doubt Nocturnus most progressive album. The shift in style would leave some members unsatisfied and the disagreements over musical direction would have disastrous consequences for the band, but more on that later. The music on "Thresholds" is quite unique death metal and the addition of a permanent keyboard player in the lineup really gave Nocturnus their own sound back in the early nineties. The opening track "Climate Controller" pretty much sums up all thatīs interesting about the album. The multible rythm changes, heavy and fast riffing (pretty melodic at times), loads of screaming shredding guitar solos, atmospheric keyboards, growling vocals and those sci-fi themed lyrics. The album is overall much more melodically and compositionally sophisticated than "The Key". Take it with a grain of salt though as "Thresholds" is still at itīs core old school US death metal. The band experiment more than enough to be considered progressive though. Some of the transitions and odd time signature parts might seem a bit abrupt and primitive by todayīs standards but back then Nocturnus were considered a very technical act. And talking about technical skill thatīs certainly one of the assets of this album too. Those guitar solos are just killer IMO. They come out of nowhere and demand attention. The tasteful use of keyboards on the album really enhance the sound and Iīm pleased that they took this approach instead of plastering their sound in synth layers.

The sound quality on the album is a bit of a disappointment. Itīs too muddy and lacks a bit of power if you ask me. The sound production on the debut was much better.

After the release of "Thresholds" the band went on a succesful European tour. When they returned home the above mentioned disagreements over musical style meant that Mike Browning was fired from the band. Not before Louis Panzer, Sean McNenney and Mike Davis had ensured the rights to the Nocturnus name behind Mike Browningīs back though. Needless to say that this manuevre created lots of animosity between Mike Browning and the rest of the band. Nocturnus would continue a couple of years without Mike Browning before disbanding but this was the end of the classic Nocturnus lineup. "Thresholds" stands as a testament to the creative and progressive ideas within Nocturnus and while I generally enjoy "The Key" sligthly more than I enjoy "Thresholds", the latter should probably be considered the bandīs crowning achivement. Especially seen from a progressive point of view. "Thresholds" is definitely not a flawless album but itīs got charm and loads of innovative ideas and a 4 star (80%) rating is fully deserved. A truly unique and classic Tech/ Extreme Prog Metal album.

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 The Key by NOCTURNUS album cover Studio Album, 1990
3.93 | 22 ratings

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The Key
Nocturnus Tech/Extreme Prog Metal

Review by UMUR
Special Collaborator Honorary Collaborator

4 stars "The Key" is the debut full-length studio album US, Florida based semi-progressive death metal act Nocturnus. The album was released through Earache Records in August 1990. The only change in the lineup since the "The Science of Horror (1988)" demo tape is that guitarist Gino Marino has been replaced by Sean McNenney. The original LP release featured 9 tracks while the CD version of the album features the song "Undead Journey" as a bonus track. While the new addition of keyboards/ synth on the "The Science of Horror" demo really gave Nocturnus a unique sound on the Florida death metal scene, it was with "The Key" that the band really put themselves on the map.

All four tracks from the demo are featured here in re-worked versions but they are all quite excellent material and itīs not audible which tracks are older demo tracks and which that are new. The lyrics are a mix of occult themes and the trademark sci-fi lyrics that Nocturnus are mostly known for. The album is actually a concept album with a pretty bizarre story. Itīs about a cyborg that travels back in time to the year 0 BC and this brings upon the destruction of christianity and the creation of a modern empire.

The music on the album is semi-progressive death metal rooted in old school US death metal similar in style to an act like Morbid Angel. Nocturnus are s bit different from the rest of the late eighties/early nineties US death metal scene though as they have a keyboard player in the lineup. Keyboards donīt automatically mean that youīre a progressive artist but Nocturnus have quite a few other interesting qualities that make them progressive to my ears (their next release "Thresholds (1992)" is more progressive than "The Key" though). They experiment with song structures and tempo and time signature changes too and those things combined with the keyboards result in this album being progressive to my ears. I consider "The Key" one of the most groundbreaking proto-progressive death metal albums and bands like Pestilence, Sadist and Theory in Practice owe a lot to Nocturnus. The vocals featured on the album are raspy growls and in addition to that there are no shortage of crushingly heavy riffs, fast tremolo picking and screaming shredding guitar solos in addition to the spacy and eerie keyboard sounds featured on the album. Tracks like "Lake of Fire", "Standing in Blood" and the closing track, and perhaps most progressive track on the album "Empire of the Sands", are excellent examples of why "The Key" is such a great album. Donīt expect tech death metal on the virtuosic level of Atheist or Cynic though, this is much more old school but still very innovative and well-played.

There are few weakneses on the album, but if I have to mention a weak link it would be drummer/lead vocalist Mike Browning. His vocal style isnīt the most powerful one Iīve heard and his staccato delivery is a bit one-dimensional. His drumming isnīt the most inventive either but despite my issues with his skills he gets the job done without distracting too much in the big picture.

I really enjoy the raw production by Tom Morris. The album was recorded in the now legendary Morrisound Studio in Temple Terrace, Florida, and allthough later death metal productions from that studio are more well-sounding and brutal I enjoy this one greatly too. BTW take a look at the beautiful cover artwork by Dan Seagrave. One of his most classic cover artworks IMO.

Iīve owned the LP version of "The Key" for years, but it never really caught on and itīs only recently that it really clicked with me and I finally understood how influential this album really was and still is (and of course also how great it is). Itīs been a real eye-opening experience listening to "The Key" again and a great pleasure too. "The Key" fully deserves a 4 star (80%) rating in my book.

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 The Nocturnus Demos by NOCTURNUS album cover Boxset/Compilation, 2004
2.03 | 3 ratings

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The Nocturnus Demos
Nocturnus Tech/Extreme Prog Metal

Review by UMUR
Special Collaborator Honorary Collaborator

2 stars The Nocturnus Demos is a compilation album released in 2004 by American, Florida based progressive death metal act Nocturnus. The compilation contains Nocturnus two demo tapes from 1987 and 1988 respectively. Both the Nocturnus (1987) and the The Science of Horror (1988) demos had only been available on cassette tape until the release of this compilation. As a curiosity the songs from the second demo appear first on the compilation while the songs from the first demo is placed last. If weīre talking about quality thatīs a wise choice as the quality is much better on the The Science of Horror demo. I prefer a chronological track order though and find it a minor weakness about the compilation that it isnīt so. The music on the first four tracks ( from the second demo) are old school US death metal with progressive elements while the tracks from the first demo are raw and primitive old school US death metal.

The Nocturnus Demos is only a fan release and even fans of the band might not want to use their life savings here. A 1.5 - 2 star rating is warranted.

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Thanks to UMUR for the artist addition.

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