The sound of dripping, as of water from a stalactite in a long-forgotten cave begins Gelidae Mortis Imago, ‘Suicidio al chiaro di luna’ acting less as a standard “intro”, carrying its own ambience. Melancholy keys, evoking an air of the classical and befitting the genre in which NOCTU operates, lead into ‘Fitte Tenebrae (Le radici dell’ inferno), which oppresses and shrouds as it was meant to, multi-tracked and oppressive choral vocals perverting the liturgical.

It’s here that we first realize what NOCTU exhales are more “patterns” than “songs”. If one is looking for verse/chorus/verse – or anything “standard”, it can be said – one has come to the wrong place. The production/mix on the album is stellar and, as most of the best of funeral doom, crafted with the headphone listener in mind, to the point that I can’t imagine what other activity one would engage in during its hour-and-a-quarter playing time.

Interlude ‘Oltre i cancelli del cimitero’ brings chill winds through the empty cathedral, forlorn and ghostly keys, sparse in the thin air, while the soaring guitar of Justin Hartwig (MOURNFUL CONGREGATION) provides a strangely uplifting tone amid the cacophony and weeping of ‘Lucida oscurita senziente’. Where NOCTU succeeds throughout is in crafting art that sounds nearly “stream of consciousness” – or would be, were it not so grand, so well put-together. Just before the 11-minute mark, Hartwig moves back to the fore, plaintively wringing passion from the strings like blood. These two (Noctu and Hartwig) work well together, and I, for one, would love to see more of a collaboration in the future.

Clocking in at just over a half-hour, the finale finds NOCTU’s vocals even more cavernous, more hollow than before. Empty as a skull’s eye sockets, or the open mouth of the grave, to the point that the lyrics being in Italian can’t stop the utter sorrow conjured here, the ever-ache of a life bereft of joy. Worth mention is the section from 15:08-19:24, as trance-inducing as THERGOTHON at its best.

In all, Gelidae Mortis Imago not only holds the attention, but engulfs it, despite never truly arriving at any destination. This album is an old, weathered collection of photographs, bound in grief and loss.
Review By: Lord Randall

Gelidae Mortis Imago
Transcending Obscurity Records
5 / 6