A little over a month ago, one of those too-sick-to-be-true demos popped up on Bandcamp. This time the band was a black metal trio from Newfoundland calling themselves NOCTURNAL PRAYER. Scanning their Bandcamp page for that first time was exhilarating; all of the boxes were checking so quickly. There were those staunchly raw aesthetics of the demo cover and the primitive logo. There was the fact that their demo was allegedly “[r]ecorded in various tunnels, caves, and forests around Newfoundland, Canada[.]” There were the killer song titles like “Basking in Corporeal Destruction” and “Alignment of Skulls.” There was the fact that this was the work of three members (including a real drummer), and not just another bedroom project from Lord Stan and his pirated drum program. With bated breath we hit play.
Demo I – Grim Sermons of the Nocturnal Prayer
Nocturnal Prayer’s demo seals the deal. The feral production of the demo presents these tracks as living, powerful things, uncaged and unchecked in their ferocity. By the time those ghoulish chanting vocals of the second track hit, the ones that sound like Attila singing on “The Frayed Ends of Sanity,” we knew we had to reach out to these psychopaths.
According guitarist/bassist Murder, Nocturnal Prayer formed suddenly and seemingly unexpectedly. First, Murder met Nausea “online through a shared love of black metal and the misanthropic,” says the guitarist. “We live about a couple of hours away in separate towns but I started traveling there on weekends to indulge in drugs, wreak havoc in cemeteries and eventually rehearse black metal. Nausea soon brought in Cancer (his cousin) to rehearse as well and that’s how Nocturnal Prayer came together. I’ve been playing music for about 15 years and have been in bands in the past but have somewhat fallen out of the local scene here. Nausea and Cancer have not been in any other bands before but have played together growing up. I always found this surprising because they are fucking excellent musicians.”
Murder, Nausea and Cancer play black metal, Murder says, because “there is no other music with such fucking emotion and devotion than the black metal from the early 90s. It’s been such a huge influence on us in how we view the world and how we want to spend our miserable days. We treat our band rehearsals as a ritual to help relay the message we wish to express, involving acts of intoxication, self mutilation, and destruction of property. We find involving one’s self in visceral acts while playing this type of music will in turn truly create barbaric music.”
Regarding their simple but perfect name, Murder says: “We wanted a name that reflected our rehearsals which take place after sunset. These rehearsals are our prayers to conjure our carnal and barbarous nature.”
Murder explains that the band uses “pseudonyms [to] help in developing our sermons and rituals. They reflect the beings we strive to become. We still have to abide by social standards to some degree but we are breaking these chains one by one. These names emulate everything that is harmful and disgusting. The complete opposite of how the people here view themselves.”
They recorded Grim Sermons of the Nocturnal Prayer outside in “various tunnels, caves, and forests,” Murder says, because “there aren’t many recording studios here and the ones that are here haven’t really had much experience with this type of music. I’ve been recording my own music for a few years so we just decided it would be best to do everything ourselves. I was never really properly shown how to record music or anything and I’m sure a lot of my methods are barbaric, but that kind of works for the music we want to play. The different locations were used to bring forth a natural and archaic feel to the songs.
“It can definitely be annoying finding a spot without interruption from outside forces and then dragging a generator or a drum kit there,” Murder continues, reflecting on their band’s unorthodox recording process. “But the actual recording procedure wasn’t all too cumbersome. Luckily our methods are pretty minimalist.”
When we ask Murder what their hometown is like, we admit that our only familiarity with Newfoundland comes from having read The Shipping News.
“The depictions of a small fishing village is still pretty accurate in many rural places here,” Murder says, “though the provincial capital holds 114,000 people. The town where Nocturnal resides has a population of almost 3000 people. Most bands come from the capital city St. John’s. While there have been some black metal bands in the past and even some now, you really couldn’t say there has been a scene here. Most shows consist of different genres thrown together to make a cauldron of mediocrity. We don’t really enjoy the idea of playing live in these situations so we don’t really bother keeping up too much with everything here.”
It makes perfect sense that Nocturnal Prayer’s rehearsals and recordings are approached like rituals. There’s an earthen spirituality to these songs that as palpable as the moonstruck howling of the vocals.
It’s apparent on the very first track. Which track, Murder says, “is about rejecting and retaliating against the social, moral obligation instilled on all of us. Being in a small and still pretty conservative town leads to a lot of ostracizing, but we will do what we want to do and live how we want to live. While none of us believe in any sort of religion, we definitely feel some sort of spiritual connection to the night, the trees, and the ocean. That’s probably just the psychedelics talking though. The mushroom season passed not too long ago so we stocked up.”
As for their awesome Black Murder cover, Murder reiterates: “The black metal from the early 90’s really captivated us with their raw emotion and devotion to destroying the norm. Black Murder and Les Legions Noires are hugely influential to us and we wanted to pay tribute to them. We started off this band covering some of our favorite songs and will definitely have more covers on later releases.”
Thankfully a label stepped up and soon Nocturnal Prayer’s demo will be available in physical format. “Grim Sermons of the Nocturnal Prayer is planned for a limited release on cassette through Morbid Bastard Records from Indonesia,” Murder reveals. “This cassette is planned [for] release in January 2020.”
But even better than that revelation, Murder says Nocturnal Prayer could release another demo at any moment now. “We’re in the middle of recording our second demo with six originals and another cover. We will probably release it in January but we don’t really abide by schedules. Fuck, it could be out next week for all we know. We like the idea of releasing demos because the execution seems less constricted.”
Remember, you heard Nocturnal Prayer here first on Demo:listen. See ya next year!