Album Review – Nocturnal Escape / Uncharted Pathways (2020)

This talented German horde returns with a brand new concept album marking a stylistic change from their original sound to a soundtrack-like Black Metal offering.

Brought into being in 2014 as a recording project by  Leo and Klaus Bergmann after their previous band Bleak disbanded, Augsburg, Germany-based Epic/Atmospheric Black Metal band Nocturnal Escape is back in action now in 2020 with their sophomore installment, entitled Uncharted Pathways, a concept album consisting of five songs with a combined running time of nearly 58 minutes, marking a stylistic change from the riff-laden Melodic Death Metal found in their 2015 self-titled debut album to a soundtrack-like Black Metal offering. Featuring a grim and exquisite artwork by artist Daniela Teichmann, the album also presents to the listener a new growler, Paul Perlberg (replacing Thomas Zimmermann), and a new session drummer, James Knoerl, instead of the programmed drums from their first album, providing the overall sound a more organic and, therefore, more intense vibe.

The serene keys by Leo kick off the 10-minute aria entitled Exodus, evolving into a fusion of classic Black and Doom Metal where Paul roars and gnarls in a true devilish manner, filling every single space in the air with its background choir-like sounds, ritualistic drums and scorching hot guitar riffs, ending in a climatic and melancholic manner and building an instant bridge to Forlorn, once again presenting whimsical sounds blended with the band’s most vicious and extreme side, with Leo and Klaus slashing their strings in great fashion and, consequently, providing Paul all he needs to vociferate like a demon while James dictates the song’s charming rhythm with his sluggish beats. In addition, it becomes crystal clear in this dense and distinguished tune how the band decided to distance themselves from Progressive Death and Black Metal, being now fully invested in a hybrid of Black, Folk and Epic Metal.

Then featuring guest Rüdiger Bergmann on trombone, the trio’s acoustic guitars and low-tuned, rumbling bass lines ignite the also multi-layered and vibrant Tranquillity, morphing into an obscure and crisp Black Metal extravaganza led by Leo and his venomous riffage while Paul adds an extra touch of evil to it with his deep, enraged growls, also bringing forward a few eerie, symphonic breaks to enhance the intricacy and drama of the overall result, sounding and feeling as epic and detailed as it can be. And the band keeps stimulating our senses with their classy extreme music in Insight, where all background elements generate a Stygian atmosphere that will darken your heart and soul. Furthermore, the Black Metal blast beats by James make an interesting paradox with the clean vocals by Leo, resulting in a lesson in Atmospheric Black Metal with Leo’s crisp riffs and solos being the icing on the cake. And accelerating their pace and enhancing their electricity they offer us all the closing tune Departure, featuring guest vocals by Stefan Bauer, with James hammering his drums mercilessly until gentle piano notes permeate the air intertwined with heavy riffs and dense bass lines, flowing into a very symphonic, epic and enfolding finale.

In case you think you have what it takes to face almost one hour of the atmospheric and obscure passages by Nocturnal Escape, you can take a full listen at Uncharted Pathways on YouTube and on Spotify, and of course purchase the album from Apple Music, from Amazon or from the band’s own BandCamp page, where not only you’ll be able to compare their current sound with their debut effort, but you’ll also receive an exclusive remastered instrumental version of the entire album (which means almost 58 extra minutes of instrumental and atmospheric extreme music for your avid ears). Also, don’t forget to check what Leo, Klaus and Paul are up to on Facebook, subscribe to their YouTube channel for more of their music, and let the atmospheric and very detailed Black Metal made in Germany found in Uncharted Pathways penetrate deep inside your mind.

Best moments of the album: Tranquillity and Departure.

Worst moments of the album: None.

Released in 2020 Independent

Track listing
1. Exodus 10:20
2. Forlorn 8:35
3. Tranquillity 12:34
4. Insight 12:21
5. Departure 13:54

BandCamp Exclusive Remastered Instrumental bonus tracks
6. Exodus (Instrumental) 10:20
7. Forlorn (Instrumental) 8:35
8. Tranquillity (Instrumental) 12:34
9. Insight (Instrumental) 12:21
10. Departure (Instrumental) 13:54

Band members
Leo Bergmann – guitars, keyboards, clean vocals
Klaus Bergmann – bass
Paul Perlberg – harsh vocals

Guest musicians
James Knoerl – drums (session)
Rüdiger Bergmann – trombone on “Tranquillity”
Stefan Bauer – vocals on “Departure”

Album Review – Syndrome / Colourful Cows EP (2013)

An interesting and totally experimental alternative outside the world of Heavy Metal.

Rating5

Colourful CowsWhenever you want to have a “break” from all the intensity of Heavy Metal (if that’s humanly possible), an interesting alternative is the EP Colourful Cows, launched in 2013 by Israeli/English Electro-Rock Alternative band Syndrome. Formed in 2010 and based in Israel and London, UK, this independent band adds a lot of different elements and experimental techniques to their regular instruments, generating a unique sonority that will certainly please fans of alternative music.

According to the band, the EP tells the first part of a story about the “Colourful Cows”, a metaphor to our life and society, and their music is totally designed based on virtual and real instruments mixed together, live sampling, programmed synthesizing and new live performance methods. All this “technical” explanation might not make a lot of sense for anyone who’s not connected to this world of electronic/experimental music. However, after listening to the entire EP, you’ll be able to better understand their proposal.

The first track of the EP, Exhibition Trial, works as a welcome card to what the band can offer us: it’s a very experimental song, with heavy keyboards and some moments that make me feel I’m inside a “psycho circus”. It’s a good start that will make you want to listen more of Syndrome’s music. The following song, Change, is a song full of special electronic effects and samples that also has an interesting intro with a female voice saying we have to shoot “them” in the head in order to kill them. Are they referring to zombies, or maybe to real living human beings as per the original idea of the album? Even being a huge fan of zombies, I choose the second option without a shadow of a doubt.

SyndromeThen come Open The Gate, a ballad with several elements that remind me of what artists like David Bowie usually present in their compositions, and L.Q.C, a more Rock N’ Roll and by far the heaviest song in Colourful Cows, which nice solos mixed with strong synths and drumming made it my favorite of all.

Colourful Cows has three more tracks that are completely different from one another: Exhibition Trial II is an instrumental ballad based on a calm and smooth piano; Get My Words is another crazy music voyage, full of synths and with a curious synthesized guitar solo; and the outro Colourful Cows is totally experimental and as odd as it can be.

The music in Colourful Cows is so “weird” that I didn’t know where to add this review, if in the 2013 New Releases or in the 2014 New Releases. Well, guess what? Neither category was selected, first because the EP was released back in August 2013 (a long, long time ago), and second because it’s not Heavy Metal at all, so it couldn’t be added to any of those categories anyway. That’s why it ended up here in the middle of the Other Reviews, which might sound weird, but remember that’s what Syndrome are and enjoy doing after all.

Last but not least, if you’re a musician interested in knowing more about how Syndrome creates their music, go to their technical webpage called Insight, which displays video clips demonstrating their technology and methods.

Best moments of the album: Exhibition Trial, Change and L.Q.C.

Worst moments of the album: Open the Gate.

Released in 2013 Independent

Track listing
1. Exhibition Trial 3:29
2. Change 3:09
3. Open The Gate 3:12
4. L.Q.C 4:18
5. Exhibition Trial II 3:00
6. Get My Words 3:59
7. Colourful Cows 1:23

Band members
Eric Shlomi – vocals
Amo – guitar & synth
Kiki Kalifa – guitar
Shaltiel Elul – synth & conductor
Gil Zissu – bass guitar
Dima Shchukin – soundman