Even-though Inferna Profundus Records (which is, for what it’s worth, one of my mostly preferred labels lately!) did release two hands full of great new (and older, re-released) material in the meantime (reviews will follow soon!), I couldn’t just ignore this older recording by Canadian act Nocturnal Prayer. I know that it is a personal opinion, but I did deeply adore this project’s former stuff passionately (cf.: see below for a couple of links on former reviews for this Arctic horde).
To keep it brief and concise: Mutilation On The Bed Of Winter has been printed on vinyl format, besides the digital availability, and it consists of seven elegies that clock almost forty minutes. And the artwork, simplistic and uncompromising, says a lot about what to expect.
And what you can expect, well, is Black Metal in its purest, rawest and most evil definition. Mutilation On The Bed Of Winter brings old-styled and uncompromising Black Metal, very epic, very melodic, and very occult. The harmonies have a certain dissonance going on; especially within the guitar-sound, that anti-catchy structural approach sucks all light and life out of our surrounding air. The epic approach, however, is even more remarkable and characteristic. And compared to the former recordings, Mutilation On The Bed Of Winter seems to sound more epic, glorious, victorious and fearless. This goes for the guitar-based melodies in the first place, which breathe a sense of pride, invincibility and determination. But the well-performed bass guitars (glad they are so recognizable in this production) and snarling drum patterns too have never sounded this grandiloquent.
The melodies themselves come with a unique mesmeric execution. Yet that hypnotic approach is like the opposite of meditative eloquence; rather an envenoming audio form of scourging mesmerism, seen from a mostly obscured perspective. The variety in speed too fortifies that transcendental nature. The faster excerpts – and some indeed are like an all-devastating eruption – rage like a rabid bull, whilst some doomed sections cover the whole in sulfur fumes and an asphyxiating smog. Yet whether a fragment is blasting, then again slowed-down, or whatever in between, the whole maintain its sophisticated character. Important to add is that all transitions in between the different paces flow out organically innate.
What follows is nothing else but my personal opinion, but the sound-quality on Mutilation On The Bed Of Winter is above expectance; or when quoted by the label: a total departure from any remnants of light and purity. It sounds damn harsh; I mean, it is unpolished, raw-edged and obtuse. But it is evident that this kind of old-schooled majesty would sound ridiculous if the production was surgically clean; such primal solemnity begs for sharp-edged asperity. At the very same time, then again, the mix is of a top-level. Every voice / instrument is so neatly hearable. The importance of the bass-lines, for example, is not just an illusion; one can clearly recognize these string-patterns throughout every single composition. The voices too do not overrule the whole crusade, yet they play a role of importance which is equal to the string-laden structures and the rhythmic support. Eternally devoted to punishment, genocide, and depravity to all who exist on the mortal plane, this album brings forth the sheerest ethos of blackened proto-elegance and inclement grandeur.