From the album’s first bludgeon of distortion and static fuzz, Denver death metal mind-melters Noctambulist extinguish any sunlight warming your day. If the unsettling intro “Dimming Lights Illuminate” is a premonition, the rest of their Atmospheres of Desolation debut is the apocalypse foretold. Dizzying and dense, their take on dissonant death metal matches the type of technical skill that makes you mouth holy shit with an auteur’s dedication to mood and world-building. This isn’t just another new project with anonymous members who idolize Gorguts and Ulcerate. As fellow Decibel scribe Greg Pratt wrote in his metal predictions for 2019: “Extreme death metal like Noctambulist—whose Atmospheres Of Desolation release, slated for a January release, totally kills it—are going to continue to increase their foothold in the underground despite some grumblings of cavernous DM running its course; Noctambulist take to the caves but also add in dissonant Pyrrhon-esque sounds, creating a new form of extreme metal well worth keeping an eye on.”
Look no further than the record’s title track for evidence to support that claim: There’s intricate riffage that hails from the same distant galaxy where Blood Incantation’s Starspawn lurks among planets with bone ‘n’ skull ring systems. A whispered mid-section where the percussion favors jazz agility to lightspeed blasts. A noisy denouement that leads to the record’s next movement as an expertly planned segue. Each song is busy and brutal without feeling like a collision of ideas. By the time the poisonous melodies of album closer “Habitual Falsehood” fade, the listener has been through an experience heavier than a sky specked with dying stars.
Exclusively stream Noctambulist’s Atmospheres of Desolation below before it’s released from Blood Harvest Records and Helter Skelter Productions (distributed and marketed by Regain Records) on January 21st. Also check out thoughts from the band regarding their lyrical themes and the origins of their moniker. But first, press play and sleepwalk into the void.
Are there any prevailing lyrical themes throughout Atmospheres of Desolation?
Lyrically, there is nothing good said on this record. In one word; nihilism. Going a bit deeper, this record outlines examples of ways that people waste their energy on “false safeties” via religion, politics, acceptance, etc. A lot of judgement is cast onto others because individuals harbor the need to feel important and to feel powerful. In reality, we mean nothing and each of those subscriptions cause toxicity amongst us.
What was it about sleepwalking that inspired the band’s name?
Again, nihilism is a prevalent theme for us. We don’t get ourselves involved in turmoil, because it is almost always fruitless and without point. We care so little about human priority and this system that betrays us over and over. I suppose you could say that we try to sleepwalk our way through life and live as close to a dream as we can. All the while, we abstain from the bullshit that people allow themselves to be consumed and governed by.
Atmospheres of Desolation is the band’s debut. How did the members meet and decide to conspire creatively?
A few of us were getting tired of playing music before this project formed. Past bands had dissolved despite the promise we may have had. We had all known each other and played shows together in our respective projects at the time. A.T. and R.H. have a band that played shows with Hapless (a former project of S.M. and M.N.). It wasn’t long before we became friends. When A.T. decided to start writing these songs, he wasn’t just looking for any musicians. Eventually, skeletal versions of the songs would be written with M.N. After a while, the need for bass and vocals became pressing. We had gotten to know each other and each other’s musical tendencies and goals, so A.T. decided that R.H. and S.M. would be fitting and willing candidates. Everything fell together very naturally and we have consistently been churning with productivity and passion.
With songs this layered and complex, how does the songwriting process progress?
A.T. and M.N. spend a ton of time each month jamming and forming ideas. These ideas eventually form into complete songs. At this point, we begin raw rehearsals where R.H. not only practices bass, but refines and adapts riffs. Lyrics and vocals are generally the last thing to come about. S.M. will spend a few practices simply listening and formulating ideas. Sometimes, we all talk over a theme and try to apply it to songs, other times, S.M. will already have lyrics written which are then edited and chopped to fit musical nuances and punctuations.
After this record is released, what’s in store for Noctambulist in 2019 and beyond?
We have begun work on a new record, which is about halfway written at this point. A huge priority for us will be to finish and record that by the end of 2019. Las Vegas Death Fest added us to their bill, so that will be a good chance to see us out of Colorado. Other festivals and shows are being thought up as we speak. We will eventually have more news on those, but our lips are sealed as of now. To be continued..