Parents surely shudder at the sight and sound of Noctem. They are overtly theatrical, anti-religious, anti-humanity, and downright heavy. For heshers looking to rebel against the norms, turn up Exilium on the family CD player. Survey says that in 10 minutes or less, Mom and Dad will be two twitches away from a breakdown. But if the music really matters, there is more to this story.

Twenty years ago, Noctem would have been the perfect package of both sound and imagery. But in today’s metal world, their approach wears thin, and their intended bite can feel more like a persistent gumming. The orchestral introduction, “Enuma Elish,” is nothing short of processed and rote, and the spell it casts – one of fleet fingered runs and fanning blasts – does little to differentiate this horde from the likes of Belphegor, Dimmu Borgir, or latter day Cradle of Filth.

Noctem’s redemption comes in the manic riffing that powers “Namstar’s Crown” and the acoustic interludes that emerge throughout Exilium, but these occasions flicker with life only through subtle variation rather than much-needed innovation.

Exilium is out September 16 on Prosthetic Records.

Rating: 2/5 Stars