Nocturnal is a German Thrash Metal band with a 21-year career in which it is more common to see singles and splits released in their catalog, to the point that "Serpent Death" would be their fourth studio album. The band currently consists of Avenger on guitar, Invoker on vocals, Incinerator on bass, and John Berry on drums. Their sound takes a lot from the eighties making use of basic, raw or primal sounds. On the occasion of his last album, we were able to do an interview with Avenger who tells us about his latest album and other topics related to Metal.

Lee la entrevista en castellano: Entrevista con Nocturnal

DARGEDIK: Welcome Avenger to Dargedik webzine pages, it's a great pleasure to talk with you about the band, this new album “Serpent Death” and other things into metal scene. So, it’s been 20 years since you started Nocturnal, but when did this start to think in a band? apparently thrash metal lovers, which you do, were in the process of extinction at beginning of the band. What motivated you to form a band at that time and in this particular style that we now call Black Thrash?

NOCTURNAL: The beginning of the band was in the year 2000 when my previous band Bestia Desecration (formed in 1997) split up. The idea was to continue the musical path we started with BD but I was alone again and since the name for me was very connected to the involved people in that time it felt better to continue under a new name. With Tormentor and Chainsaw Carnage I also took 2 songs for Nocturnal which where already done for BD. Anyway... the beginnings where very chaotic since the first demo I recorded completely alone while the first 7” I did with Skull Crusher who handled the vocals, 2nd guitar and some basslines. But that was just for a short time until I met Mayhem and Hellbastard with whom I formed the first real lineup of Nocturnal and recorded the Thrash with the devil Mini Album with. Shorty after Jex and Vomitor completed the band to play our first live shows. I never thought of Nocturnal as a black thrash band... for me this is thrash metal the german way how I think it should be. We got labeled Black/Thrash since after Arrival of the Carnivore and this never changed until today... nowadays I don´t care anymore since it does not change anything from the music but in the beginning this pissed me off quite a bit because I felt people don´t get what I want to do with Nocturnal.

DARGEDIK: In all this time you had shown a very solid formation, what happened after the release of “Stormig Evil” (2014)? How do you feel about the new line-up? There are many fans wondering what happened to Tyrannizer. Was it difficult to find these new members?

NOCTURNAL: To make a long and boring story short. Things have changed in people's lives, jobs, personal things, motivation, musical priorities and so on.... No one was kicked out, Tyrannizer, Skullsplitter, and Vomitor all had their reasons to leave. Tyrannizer is still raging, just not doing any music. But she is still a close friend which I see regularly. Vomitor plays with Possession (Bel) now and Skullsplitter is active with his bands Halphas and Cross Vault, and he still is the drummer for my doom band Angel of Damnation. I love the new lineup, this is a gang of friends playing music together. Yes, it was not easy to find the right people who fit musically, mentally, and most important personally in the band. I´m very lucky and thankful I found these guys.  

DARGEDIK: Do you normally listen to your music? After 20 years and with a new album in your hands, could you say that “Serpent Death” is the most faithful thing that you have done with respect the old style that you practice? Did you ever feel out of ideas, or do you the need to look other styles to add to the music you make?

NOCTURNAL: Well... the main motivation I create music at all is that I want to do something I feel is missing from current music. So yes, I also listen to my own music. Most of the time of course during the mixing/mastering process, ha ha. I always need my time to create Nocturnal songs, in the past we always needed at least 4 years for a new album because I need some distance from the recent material first and to see what I want to do next. I also don´t want to copy myself and yes, to stay faithful to our style and in the same time still sound fresh is really not easy. I think the new stuff sounds a bit more traditional metal like which is an element which was not really present in the previous stuff. But this came natural and was not really planned.  

DARGEDIK: How is the creative process in Nocturnal? How can you direct your ideas for the 8 or 9 bands you are in? Do you have a special time for each band? Tell us please. And which of them will bring us news soon.

NOCTURNAL: These 8 or 9 bands are not bands that are fully active. Most of them are just me. Only The Fog, Angel of Damnation and now Sacrifixion have other members involved. So, this sounds way more work than it actually is. I always work on something, but what depends a lot on my mood and where inspiration did strike me. The day has 24 hours and of course, time management is necessary to get everything working together. Anyway... Nocturnal is definitely my priority and now we have a new album and hopefully play live a lot in 2022 of course everything else will be more low profile.

What´s coming next is the first 7” of Sacrifixion (with Carnivore, ex-Cruel Force/Megatherion) on vocals out on Hell´s Headbangers Records, a split of Angel of Damnation and Cross Vault and hopefully a new The Fog Album, with whom I will play my first show after  1 ½ years with end of August.

DARGEDIK: What can you tell us about the lyrics in "Serpent Death"? Is there a general concept behind it? Or Is there something else behind the lyrics in Nocturnal? or is it just dark poetry that accompanies the music?

NOCTURNAL: The lyrics in Nocturnal are straight old school metal lyrics about death, destruction, demons and damnation. They are more there to set a certain mood than to spread any message. Of course there are exceptions here and there, for example the message of “The iron throne” is very important to me, ha ha.

DARGEDIK: Speaking of this matter, what is your philosophy of life? Maybe something like Sex, Drinks and Metal? what do you do while you are not making music?

NOCTURNAL: Basically everything in my life works around creating and spreading metal ! I have no real hobbies besides that. I have some basic interest in true crime documentaries, movies and video games, especially Nes speedruns and stuff like that. And then there is of course my day job which takes most of my time, unfortunately. On the weekends I visit shows and in the summer festivals and luckily I have a wonderful wife which completely is into all of this with me.

DARGEDIK: Do you have a way of working to make the covers? Or do you leave it to the inspiration of the artist?

NOCTURNAL: We usually have a basic idea and for the style we of course ask an artist we think is capable of creating something in the way we want it to look like. This time an Indonesian artist, Nino Andaresta is responsible for the cover artwork who did a fantastic job.

DARGEDIK: Why did you choose “Damnators Hand” and “Bleeding Heaven” as singles? Do you think both contain the spirit of the album? Or was it an election by the label?

NOCTURNAL: Well... we had to decide for 3 songs to be released upfront. “Void Dweller” will be the 3rd which should be out when this interview is published. For me it was hard to choose anything over the other songs but in the end we thought those  are the ones who represent the album best as a whole. Don´t think they are the best songs necessarily just because they where released upfront. I´m pretty sure once the album will be out people will have other songs as favorites too. The label left the decision with us which songs to choose but I also asked for Flo´s opinion.

DARGEDIK: I know it sounds cliché, but one of my favorites is “Black Ritual Tower”, I think it has captured the essence of the style with those intense Heavies melodies, do you have any favorites in this “Serpent Death”? Which will be chosen for the new live events? I think that “Beneath A Steel Sky” could not be absent. What do you think?

NOCTURNAL: When I listen to the whole thing I always think the song i´m listening to at the moment is the best of the album, ha ha ! Black Ritual Tower is definitely also one of my faves. We did not really decide yet which songs we will play live, we will get to that once we start rehearsing a live set. “Beneath a steel sky” would not really be on the top of MY list, but I know that it would be definitely be in top of the list of Invoker, ha ha. Sometimes the best songs working well in an album concept don´t really work live. We had to throw out “Taken by Fire” from Storming Evil or “Tyrants of Damnation” which I think are really great songs but we noticed they don´t work so well played live so we replaced them with others. 

DARGEDIK: I have read that many ppl thinks that German bangers are born with a bit of Thrash Metal in their blood, even the youngest.  What aer you think of that love that exists in young people for the classic sounds? Or perhaps is it just a passing trend? Lately, Is there a current band that has surprised you?

NOCTURNAL: There might be some truth to it ! But here as everywhere else in the world are people with different tastes and there are just as much people who are just into black/death/doom whatever and not so much into thrash as the other way round. Good music is what matters, not necessarily the genre. Not sure about trends, I hear now with doing more interviews for the new album that there is a new rise of thrash but I don´t really think that´s true. For me it was always there, always bands who kept the flag of hate high and always people into it. I really like Evilcult, Sphinx, Witching Hour, Insane (Swe), Bütcher, Hellpossession, Witchtrap, Deathhammer, Nekromantheon and probably a ton more I forget now....

DARGEDIK:  Searching the internet for something else about you I found some videos of a band called Skalar, playing a kind of Germanic Hardcore punk, is it just fun? the video for the song “Satan” is very funny. Who is accompanying you in this project?

NOCTURNAL: Skalar is a band which is the german punk version of the heavy metal band Scalare which again where born out of the black/death metal band Witchslaughter who just released one demo tape in 1999. The 3 members are called Winged Death, Mutilator and Black Abyss and always share the instruments depending on who of them wrote the song. But I have more a management position because they don´t really like to have contact with people and more or less stay for themselves. So I kick their asses once in a while that they do something at all and take care of the communication with business partners for advertising and sponsoring deals, planning of video clips, TV appearances and so on. “Satan” is a cover song of east german punk legend Schleim-Keim and was released on a Scalare/Skalar Split 7” where both bands play cover songs of east german punk and metal classics.

DARGEDIK: What was the main reason for you to create your Death Strike Records Label? and What are the closest plans?

NOCTURNAL: Since when in the late 90´s I was getting deeper in the underground I really love trading and the DIY attitude. I saw people record and release their music themselves and then go out and also spread their music themselves as well. I loved that this was possible to be totally independent on record stores and so on which where the only ways to get music for me until that point. After releasing my first demos of Bestial Desecration and Front Beast and spreading them through trading it was just a question of time I needed a name for that kind of activity. Later I switched to releasing vinyl and also other bands I loved and felt needed some support. Nowadays Deathstrike Records is not really active anymore since things have changed a lot over the last 10 years and the whole fun of why I started that whole thing is gone. Also, the infrastructure with other labels and bands is completely different nowadays and it all makes no sense for me anymore. Anyway, Deathstrike is nowadays more just an online store where I sell all merch connected to my bands under one roof and also some stuff I still got ahold of somehow through trading and think is worthy to be spread more. 

DARGEDIK: I have seen that you have a large collection of pictures LPs. What do you think of their sound? Musically you consider it a good format to collect, coz many people never touched their pictures LPs even once since they have the same releases in other formats.

NOCTURNAL: I would never really buy a picture vinyl when it would be the only way I could listen to it. To me they are really more a thing to display on my wall because they look cool. I have some Picture Vinyl only releases but they are stored in my shelves so I can listen to them if I want to. Basically everything on my wall I have in other formats as well.

DARGEDIK: Are you a fan of the 7 Eps? Coz Nocturnal is a band with a lot of these releases, will we see a 7EP of any “Serpent Death” single in the future? What do these editions depend on?

NOCTURNAL: I personally like the format for a bit more special recordings which are probably not for everyone. Nowadays it makes no sense to do a 7” single release of an album track I think. We released split 7” with Nuctemeron in early 2020 as a test ride to see if I can record our material well enough myself to also do the album that way, which by the way I did.  We just gave the tracks to someone else to mix and master it. Also, we wanted to have something out with the new lineup. 2 more tracks (one re-recording of Beast of Hades and a Slaughter (Can) cover) from that recording session will be released on a split 7” with Sabbat (Jpn) soon. We made some changes with those recordings because we were not really satisfied with them anymore. I have the idea to re-record 2 old Bestial Desecration songs and put them out on a 7” one day. So, we will continue to release 7” EP´s in the future, but there must be an idea or material suitable for it. Some early Nocturnal 7” material is quality-wise not really good, this will not be the case with any future stuff for sure. 

DARGEDIK:  You were in Peru and South America, and in many other places in the world. Have all these trips and contact with different cultures changed your vision of the world about underground movement? Do you think there is a united movement around the world? What is your impression of these matter? And what do you like most about touring?

NOCTURNAL: It´s a fantastic feeling to visit other places and see there is always that one thing which connects us all over the world, the music! Heavy Metal is the language we all speak! Honestly, there are way too many things that I dislike about touring but that hour on the stage and getting the overwhelming response from the maniacs everywhere makes up for every trouble you go through. Since I was always in contact with metalheads from all over the world there was nothing that totally caught me by surprise because in the end, we are all the same! I think it´s a shame we rarely get the chance to check out the places we visit because the schedules are always so tight. I was in so many great and interesting cities and countries but just know their airport, maybe a gas station and some fucked up venue there, ha ha.

DARGEDIK: Well, Avenger, the sad time arrived at this interview, I hope you enjoy this one as I did and thank you very much for your time. The last album is a great one! Take care during this pandemic situation and our best wishes from this part of the world. Any last words for your new fans in Latin America and Dargedik readers?

NOCTURNAL: Thanks a lot for that interview! Enjoyed it a lot! Check out Serpent Death! It´s a great album that comes from the heart! No mainstream shit! Thanks to everyone who supported us in the past and will be with us in the future!

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