In the current and ongoing Black Metal rejuvenation, the name of Nocturnal Departure was dropped more than once as one of the genre highlights. The Canadians seemed to have everything set into all the right scene aesthetics, including the black and purple covers of their first two albums, all released by a slew of underground activist labels. This new album, ‘Clandestine Theurgy’ does not only break tradition with its completely different cover, but Nocturnal Departure also took a markedly different route when it chose Hells Headbangers Records as its new home.
Musically, however, the band basically continued where it left off with ‘Worm Moon Offerings’ from 2020. Its raw Black Metal with a rather beefed up sound, not all to far removed from a Death Metal sort of tone, now definitely settled as their trademark sound. Its pretty crude and gritty guitars are going down the maelstrom with the shrieking and raspy vocals. But, frankly, apart from that somewhat different guitar tone, the music on offer on ‘Clandestine Theurgy’ is roughly as bland and flat sounding as both of its preceding work. It lacks depth, creativity and just seems a little unbalanced. Just like the first two albums, the music is not as raw as many of their genre contemporaries, but at the very same time they are also not able to push any boundaries with their standard song writing. It all seems to string together without much variety or anything else that would allow the listener to make anything out of the offered tracks. Although the album does have some good ideas and a solid riff here and there, it basically all gets bogged down into a faceless blur.
The enthusiasm around Nocturnal Departure was something I always had a bit of a hard time relating to, though by no means a bad band, it just floats around in that muddy pool of averageness. ‘Clandestine Theurgy’ is proof that even with the right aesthetics and a gritty guitar tone you still have to deliver. Song writing is still very much key, even for Raw Black Metal.