Limbonic Art – Ad Noctum: Dynasty of Death

This review first appeared in print issue I of Ex Abyssō.

Limbonic Art
Ad Noctum: Dynasty of Death
Nocturnal Art, 1999

In a span of years where both Emperor and Dimmu Borgir reached their greatest heights, who was really interested in even more overblown symphonic black metal? More importantly, who would be now, almost 20 years on?

And still, listening to Limbonic Art’s Ad Noctum: Dynasty of Death, it’s something more than nostalgia that tickles me. This shit holds up, and it does so just as well, or perhaps even better, than contemporary works such as Spiritual Black Dimensions or IX Equilibrium. The basic ingredients are what you’d expect. There are a ton of riffs, screams, fingers almost punching through the synth keys, and programmed, (mostly) frantic drums.

The devil’s in the details. Interestingly, Ad Noctum has the occasional techno beat, foreshadowing the almost poppy sound of e.g. Mesarthim, which at the time was perhaps a bit controversial (I can’t recall), but surely adds a groove that more black metal could have been enriched by. Apart from that, these dudes honed in on their topic with relentless focus, both musically and lyrically. It lacks the flourishes and thematic juvenility of Dimmu’s work, and is more down to earth than Emperor’s grand visions of the time.

What that gives us is an album that batters you down with its uncompromising exploration of mental illness and death. I would say “not for the faint of heart”, but in actuality this one has gotten me through some tough, vulnerable times.

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