Reviews for Nocturnus - The Key:
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This album is so far ahead of it's time in terms of death metal. This band was using far more sci-fi oriented lyrics, whilst most of their contemporaries at the time (bar Death), were still singing about gore, death or satan. Also, the musicianship on this album totally rules (although is let down somewhat by the production), and the use of keyboards as an equal instrument in the mix was pretty much unheard of in death metal. This is truly an awesome, pioneering death metal album of the early 90s surge of death, that unfortunately this amazing band didn't get enough credit for.

Review by: The Monk

Very good album - not many bands played such music, and not many still play...
One of the best technical jazz/death metal albums...

Review by: Mik

Well.... in 1990 there weren't many bands (there were not AT ALL) that played this way. Nocturnus was the first death metal band from Florida that tried to do something different from the usual (compare'em with Deicide, Morbid Angel, Death and Cannibal Corpse). I like very much Bowning's way of playing drums, even if his vocal could be more aggressive and down tuned (they're similar to shouting).
Anyway this is one of the true masterpiece of american death metal that came out those years and I think that will never be out of season!
P.S. I don't think that Nocturnus would never be labelled as jazz/death... :-) it's a term only used for late Atheist..

Review by: Evil Frons

If I'd describe this as extreme thrash turned black metal with keyboards, I'd actually not be far off, yet I would probably also put people on the wrong track. I could also call it deathmetal, but that would be misleading even more. For that matter Nocturnus first put me on the wrong track as well. When I first heard this, I thought it was pretty uninspired black metal with keyboards. On closer inspection, there appears to be a lot more to this album.

First track already opens with some synth stuff, then after 0:50 deathmetal-esque soloing and random guitarnoodling kick in, and not much thereafter, the synths sound as if they were directly taken from a cheesy old sci-fi movie. After that, the song goes into what is to be the style of the rest of the album; a steady up-tempo form of thrash, but with the guitars giving away prominence to the slightly corny synths superimposed on them. The vocals could be described as a harsher variant of a thrash-scream.

One of the things defining the sound on The Key would be the occasional frantic and almost seemingly random guitar-noodles that are short of being a solo, and the slightly off-key keyboard-play. When I put it like that, it might sound like a bad thing, but the weird thing about this album is that it helps to create a sense of alienation. The aforementioned sci-fi-esque synths aren't the only time a sci-fi-movie atmosphere is conjured up.

At the first few listens, from what Nocturnus plays, you're expecting standard songstructures and playing, but Nocturnus continually seems to deviate from what you'd expect, by throwing in a few extra notes/noodlings, by making the timing seem just slightly off, by sounding slightly off-key, or simply hitting a note you wouldn't expect, and this seems to work for Nocturnus.

Overall, this album won't appeal to many, and it takes some growing before you can apreciate it, but it is good. And from as early as 1990, so that's a bit extra in the points department.


Review by: Egregius

I long regarded this as the best metal-album ever. Ehmmm... I still do, actually. I've never heard such prolific guitar-playing in metal before - this is the only album I know of with riffs that are utterly unplayable for me (yes, yes... But I CAN play). Solos are totally insane but never pointless. Favourite tracks are Enter the Droid - just listen to those riffs and their accuracy! - and Andromeda strain; the only weak spot being BC/AD. Too bad the vocals are all but inaudible, although you'd never understand the lyrics without the sheet in front of you anyway... Epic album. If I had to do away all metal from my shelves but one, this is it.

Review by: Clouded Sky

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