War and thrash metal! The perfect combination. At least when brought together by an act like Nocturnal Fear. The US thrasher certainly deliver the goods on Excessive Cruelty, which is a cornucopia of old school thrash metal riffage combined with the occasional blastbeat and death metal riff. Despite the death metal elements and the guttural style vocals, I would not consider this death metal or even death thrash, as most of the riffage and the overall attitude draws more on thrash metal, and there seems to be more inspiration from bands like Slayer and German thrash metal bands like Kreator, Destruction and Sodom – in fact, it seems that mid 80s Teutonic thrash metal is the biggest source of inspiration to Nocturnal Fear on this album.
We are dealing with aggressive and brutal uptempo thrash metal with semi-technical riffage and a lot of changes and riffs, passages and old school thrash metal breakdowns per tune. With an average length of about five minutes, there is both plenty of room and need for variation, and Nocturnal Fear does this to perfection in most tunes. It never gets boring, and there are even a couple of melodic sections every now and then with background keyboards occasionalty popping out of the blue.
The production is a bit raw, and some might consider the sound thin (especially the guitar solos seem to have been minimally processed in the mix and mastering), but I would say that in their production Nocturnal Fear manage to capture some of the authenticity of the thrash metal scene of the 80s, and – at least in my case – the listener quickly gets used to the production such that it soed not become annoying or unlistenable.
Excessive Cruelty is anchored in the thrash metal of the 80s but contains some elements from more modern and more brutal metal, which means that it is more than just a retro-album. In its entirety, the album works brilliantly – it is recommended to fans of old school thrash metal.
1. Murder for Hire
2. Excessive Cruelty
3. I Am War
4. Absolute Annihilation
5. Rolling Thunder
6. World War 3
7. Intro – Invade to Conquer, Part 1
8. Frozen in Stone
9. Human Shield