Nocturna are a Norwegian black metal/technical death metal band from Notodden, Norway, formed in 1993 by main contributing band members Nocturna Sublimina Sepulturum and Abyssus, real names Johe Vigde and Petr Kristens. Other members of the band include Kristian Visten aka Vampir (guitar), Hansen Ivegst aka Belgoth (bass), Victoria Kristens aka Lady Death (keyboards), and Peter Grukken aka Varghulf (drums). They have released ten albums over the past seventeen years, and have garnered a large fanbase in Europe and elsewhere.
Though the band have gone through several line-up changes over the years, Johe Vigde, Peter Grukken and Petr Kristens are the three longest running band members. Johe Vigde has announced via the band's website shortly after their tenth album Maculo Aula Ut Vos Ingredior that he would be forming a one man side-project called Necrallia. On July 15th Vigde was admitted into hospital after complaining of chest pains, but confirmed later that day he was beginning to feel much better.
Formation and early years (1991-1993)
Johe Vigde (age 19) and Petrovin "Petr" Kristens (age 20) met at a local Notodden club showcasing black metal acts, in particular natives Emperor. According to Vigde and Kristens, they were heavily influenced by the new black metal. They formed a band in 1991, Decessum, consisting of themselves and Peter Grukken on drums. The band lasted only two years, and dissolved by 1993. Vidge, Kristens and Grukken stuck together, and formed a new band, Nocturna. They recruited Jonas Henrikten on guitars and Joachim Idved on bass. The band recorded their first EP, 1993's "Nutritor Monasteriense", and were soon picked up by Hans Skökog, who was also at the time working with Yggdrasill Burning. The Nutritor Monasteriense EP has since become a rare item for fans of the band.
Deus Contemno Letalis and sucess (1993-1995)
In 1993, out of nowhere, Nocturna released their debut album, Deus Contemno Letalis, meaning "God Hates Mortals" in Latin. According to Johe Vigde the moment they released the album and garnered acclaim changed his life forever. The album was not however without controversy, despite generally positive reviews. Several Norwegian churches lashed out at Nocturna, calling them "Christian haters". Johe Vigde replied by saying: "The titles of our albums are not meant to be taken literally. Unlike most of our style we do not burn churches and et cetera. Both Petr and I are Christians, and absolutely do not support anti-Christian movements". A representative of the churches offered their apologies, which Vigde accepted, saying it was a simple misunderstanding.
In 1994 the band were invited to headline the first Sounds of Death and Destruction festival in Norway and Sweden, playing to the biggest crowds they had ever before. Petr Kristens commented on the experience in 2000: "The festival was our first big thing, and we helped the organisers gain some footing, and vice versa. Black metal was big as hell back in '94, with Burzum and the rest. We were like the newcomers to the touring thing, and the other bands were like gods to us, we felt so insignificant. But the diehard fans from Notodden and other parts, who had known us since Decessum, made their way to see us, which made us know we were on the right track."
Diabolus Quod Suus Angelus (1995-1997)
In 1995, after a sucessful debut and touring excessively, Nocturna returned to the studio to record the follow-up to Deus Contemno Letalis with producer Hans Skökog, who was also working with Yggdrasill Burning on what would become their Ainulindalë. Johe Vigde later said the sound of Diabolus Quod Suus Angelus was much more death metal-orientated, and has claimed this led their eventual "blackened death metal/alternative black death" sound, coined by them as critics say, and later followed by younger bands such as Van Helsing and Crypt of the Emperor. On September 18th 1995 Nocturna released Diabolus Quod Suus Angelus to wide acclaim, although some fans felt alienated by the more death metal sound, but were later appeased with the band's developed sound. Critics appraised the album's musical and lyrical technicality, and said: "what sets Nocturna aside from other black metal bands is their lyrical variety and profound ability to paint pictures with Vigde's alternating black metal shriek and death metal growl, with Kristens' thudding and droning guitar work and Grukken's heavy drums". After the album's release the band toured with Van Helsing, who were riding on the sucess of their 1995 EP Death Cult. The tour was unexpectadly sucessful, and the two bands headed to Europe alongside Yggdrasill Burning and Euphoria Down.
Templum Exuro Per Diabolus and Johe Vigde's attack (1997-2000)
In 1997, keyboardist Andreas Michestnen (Nephilim) joined Nocturna's ranks, and bassist Joachim Idved left the band after four years, replaced by Hansen Ivegst. Slightly integrating the keyboards with Andreas into their live shows, Nocturna expressed interest in using them in their next album, helmed once again by Hans Skökog. The band entered the studio in 1997 to record their next album, and finished it relatively quickly, integrating Andreas' keyboards into the band's newfound sound. When interviewed about the inclusion of keyboards on Templum Exuro Per Diabolus released on September 16th 1997 , Johe Vigde aka Nocturna Sublimina Sepulturum said: "Keyboards and metal don't really mix too well, but with a bit of keyboards it makes a song. The key is using them sparingly, Andreas doesn't have a huge role in the band, but he still plays a vital part in our sound".
In 1999 Nocturna joined the European Sound of Doom tour alongside Sweden's Yggdrasill Burning and Denmark's Forked Tongue Horde, of which Jonas Henrikten would later join in 2004. The bands played a series of hugely sucessful shows across Europe, and in September played in Belarus to a large amount of European fans. After their show, Yggdrasill Burning frontman Michael Tägtgren joined Nocturna in their green room, befriending Nocturna Sublimina Sepulturum and Abyssus. At around mindight, a disgruntled fan, later indentified as Peter Darushenku, burst into the green room demanding an autograph from Johe Vigde. When Vigde refused, Darushenku stabbed him with a 5.2 inch knife in his shoulder and neck. Vigde survived the attack, but remained in hospital for several months. The wound to his neck had nearly severed Vigde's jugular, and he took sometime off with the band to get his voice back into shape, and his guitar playing back on track also after severing a nerve in his shoulder. Vigde said the experience: "Was like learning to walk again. I was totally unable to do what I loved for months. I'm just glad I got back on track". In 2000 drummer Varghulf (Peter Grukken) took a hiatus from the band after breaking his leg. He was replaced by Henri Vikten (Krateos) until 2004, when Grukken returned.
Sarcalogos Dico Pro Ultionis and Attero Templum (2000-2001)
With 1999 being a hectic year for the band, and 2000 a year of recovery, the band set about recording a new album (the first to feature Henri Vikten "Krateos" on drums). They chose to record with Hans Skökog once again, and as Johe Vigde commented at the time: "It's a new decade, and Nocturna are'nt ready to abandon our distinctive sound. Hans Skökog gave us so much and helped us rise. We owe him our fame and popularity, without Hans we'd be nowhere". The band released Sarcalogos Dico Pro Ultionis on July 20th 2000 to much acclaim and sucess, but Vigde and the rest of the band felt that the nine songs unused needed their place. The band returned to the studio on November 15th 2000 after touring since Sarcalogos Dico Pro Ultionis ' release. On January 15th 2001 the band released Attero Templum, considered by both the band and critics as a continuation of its predecessor, despite different lyrical themes and musical style. They released their first single/EP, the "Birthing the Defiler" EP, featuring a track off Attero Templum and two live tracks from Sounds of Doom and Death 2000. The band embarked on the Attero-Sarcalagos Tour, their first headlining tour.
Inconcessus Per Vestri Filiolus (2001-2004)
In 2002, longtime guitarist Jonas Henrikten left Nocturna, and joined Forked Tongue Horde in 2004. He was replaced by current guitarist Kristian Visten, formerly of Kryptikalys and Anti-Christian, in time for the band's return to the studio. They recorded once again with Hans Skökog through the later half of 2002, and finally on August 5th 2003 they released Inconcessus Per Vestri Filiolus, their sixth album in eleven years. The band toured throughout Europe to support Inconcessus Per Vestri Filiolus, and in 2004 the band welcomed back founding member Peter "Varghulf" Grukken, who replaced drummer Krateos (Henri Vikten) after departing in 2000.
Nex Est Meus Vita , Cruor Est Meus Via (2004-2006)
By 2004, Nocturna had toured continiously to support Inconcessus Per Vestri Filiolus. The album had been a commercial and critical sucess, and Nocturna Sublimina Sepulturum had recovered from his injuries, although still bearing scars. In an interview with Metalix, he said: "Nocturna is a crazy lifestyle. We are approaching our seventh album soon, and although all of us may not feel old, me, Abyssus and Varghulf certainly do. We started Nocturna almost twelve years ago now and all we wanted was to make music, nothing else. The response we've gotten has been the greatest thing in all our lives." The band entered the studio in 2004 to record their follow-up to 2003's Inconcessus Per Vestri Filiolus with Hans Skökog. Varghulf said his return to the band was a happy event, and that he was already beginning to get back into the mode of playing with Nocturna during the recording of what would become Nex Est Meus Vita , Cruor Est Meus Via: "It's good to be back with the band. I injured my leg really badly, and it practically screwed up my place in the band. It is good to be back, and Nocturna Sublimina Sepulturum and Abyssus, along with the others, welcomed me back openly. We're all a big happy black metal family in Nocturna". Nex Est Meus Vita , Cruor Est Meus Via was released on March 28th 2005 to much success and acclaim like its predecessors. They followed suit with their second EP, featuring the song "Morphing Crow" and three live tracks. The band played at Sounds of Doom and Death 2005, their third time at the festival, and toured with Yggdrasill Burning, of which the band had become good friends with.
Ortus Cruor Astrum and The Rotting God: Lacuna Morbus (2006-2008)
After touring through much of 2005 to promote Nex Est Meus Vita , Cruor Est Meus Via, Nocturna returned to the studio instead with Jonas Nævdal of Elysium fame, Hans Skökog having other bands to work with. They recorded for the rest of 2005 and majority of 2006, and finally released their eigth album Ortus Cruor Astrum on January 2nd 2007. They toured across Europe, but once again the band felt that extra material was needed elsewhere. Before they returned to the studio with Jonas Nævdal, keyboardist Nephilim quit, and was replaced by Abyssus wife Victoria, aka Lady Death. The band had additional 10 songs unused for Ortus Cruor Astrum, and Johe Vigde reportedly wanted to make more. They recorded and re-recorded for majority of 2007, releasing The Rotting God: Lacuna Morbus on January 10th 2008.
Maculo Aula Ut Vos Ingredior and present (2008-present)
Towards the end of 2009 the band announced via their website that they would be recording a new album in 2010, aptly titled Maculo Aula Ut Vos Ingredior. In a recent interview, Nocturna Sublimina Sepulturum said:
"We've had a two year break, and lots of creative stuff has been happening. Abyssus has been working on some killer riffs, and Varghulf has been tightening his drumming. The whole band has spent the time since our last record to get on top of form for this record. Us three (Nocturna Sublimina Sepulturum, Abyssus, and Varghulf) are not getting any younger, and want to make the most of our ability while we can. When you're black metal veterans you aren't expected to do more albums, we just do it because we love making music". The album, Maculo Aula Ut Vos Ingredior, released on May 3rd, recieved an early review from MetalHeaded. They generally praised the album, saying its technically and lyrical intrigue is what people have come to expect and receive from Nocturna. "Though undeniably lyrical different from The Rotting God: Lacuna Morbus, this album is definitely a decent black/death hybrid you don't see these days. It seems Nocturna will apparently never go stagnant, or have yet too. Another strong release from Norway's black metal vets". The band have announced tour dates in Norway, Sweden, and Finland, as well as other parts of northern Europe. Nocturna Sublimina Sepulturum has also confirmed shows in the UK and USA, and possibly even Australia and New Zealand, will follow later in the year. Tour dates were put on hold when Johe Vigde was admitted to a hospital on July 15th 2010 after complaining of chest pains. He has confirmed he is well.
Though the band are essentially black metal, they sometimes fall into the categories of blackened death metal, gothic black metal, symphonic black metal, and what the band calls "black gothic death". Nocturna Sublimina Sepulturum alternates between a black metal voice to a guttural more death metal growl, along with sometimes spoken passages, and has said himself: "Nocturna are a black metal band right out of Transylvania, even though we're Norwegian". Abyssus and Kristian Visten play a mixtue of guitar common in both black and death metal, along with symphonic passages in some songs. Occasionally drummer Varghulf employs slow drum passages that follow into blast beat drumming, a common trait in black metal. This is most evident in the song "Morphing Crow". Lady Death's keyboards, though seldom used, are mostly symphonic, and as she describes "gothic, right out of Transylvania". Hansen Ivegst's bass cannot usually be heard, but he does play some solo passages in intros or outros of songs. Another occasional trait in Nocturna's more recent outputs is the background singing of Lady Death, which is very operatic and choral, or as she describes; "dramatic, gothic, and vampiric". Although the band do not usually sing about Transylvania and vampires, Nocturna Sublimina Sepulturum has confessed to having a profound interest in the topic. He says altough he does not want the band to fall into what he calls "vampiric lyrical fixation", he will sometimes employ vampiric lyrics into some of the songs. He has said: "Although we love the myth and mystery surrounding the vampire, we do not want to be a vampire metal band. We're just a black metal band with death and gothic influences".
The founding members of the band, Nocturna Sublimina Sepulturum, Abyssus, and Varghulf primarily take on characters when the band performs live, although they often do not wear the corpse paint in some photos. Nocturna Sublimina Sepulturum wears a black cape on some occasions with a burning cross on the back, and uses a microphone with a crucifix on it, while Abyssus will sometimes play an axe shaped guitar and wear chainmail, and Varghulf wears "vestigal bat wings" on his back, which do not impair his drumming often. The other members of the band don black outfits during live shows, and although guitarist and bassist Kristian Visten and Hansen Ivegst usually go by their names, Nocturna somtimes introduces them at concerts as Vampir (Visten) and Belgoth (Ivegst). Another common feature at Nocturna's bigger shows is Nocturna Sublimina Sepulturum's entrance, as he swoops onto stage at the beginning of most shows.
Controversy arose in 2005 at a Bucharest show when Nocturna Sublimina Sepulturum slit his wrist and drank his own blood from a gold chalice, letting it spill all over his outfit and face, proclaiming: "Let the spirit of Dracula be with us this evening!". Several concert goers complained about the disgusting and over the top act, and Nocturna Sublimina Sepulturum was not allowed to do the "bloodletting" stunt at any shows in Romania. The first time he did the "bloodletting" stunt was at a 1997 show in Notodden, the band's home town. Fans reacted wildly, with some so excited Nocturna Sublimina let his blood onto the front row. He was rumored to have lost a moderate amount of blood, but did not complain of ill health afterwards. He has said in interviews: "There is really nothing morally nor physically wrong with drinking your own blood. You don't loose it, it just comes back into you. I sterilize the blades I use before I preform, there is no need to worry about infection and that stuff".
Another predominate and occasional theatric at Nocturna shows is Abyssus being crucified on stage. However this is modified to ensure minimal pain and Abyssus' survival. Several Christian groups have lashed out at the band for "mocking Christ", but the band has defended the theatric, saying "it is meant to show that every one is vulnerable, like Jesus". Nocturna Sublimina Sepulturum will often perform the crucifixion, while the rest of the band plays a symphonic instrumental.
- Studio albums
- Deus Contemno Letalis (1993)
- Diabolus Quod Suus Angelus (1995)
- Templum Exuro Per Diabolus (1997)
- Sarcalogos Dico Pro Ultionis (2000)
- Attero Templum (2001)
- Inconcessus Per Vestri Filiolus (2003)
- Nex Est Meus Vita , Cruor Est Meus Via (2005)
- Ortus Cruor Astrum (2007)
- The Rotting God: Lacuna Morbus (2008)
- Maculo Aula Ut Vos Ingredior (2010)
- Live albums, compilatons, and EPs
- "Ago Procul Sanus of Nex quod Fatum: Live At Sounds of Death and Doom '97" (2002)
- "Norwegian Demon Call: Nocturna Live In Moscow" (2006)
- "Gospels of Darkness: Nocturna 1993-2003" (2003)
- "15 Years of Pure Black Metal: Nocturna's Greatest Hits 15th Year Anniversary" (2008)
- Nutritor Monasteriense EP (1993)
- Birthing the Defiler EP (2001)
- Morphing Crow EP (2005)
- The Diseased Crucifix EP (2008)
Nutritor Monasteriense EP
Deus Contemno Letalis
Diabolus Quod Suus Angelus
Templum Exuro Per Diabolus
Sarcalogos Dico Pro Ultionis
Inconcessus Per Vestri Filiolus
Nex Est Meus Vita , Cruor Est Meus Via
Ortus Cruor Astrum
The Rotting God: Lacuna Morbus
Maculo Aula Ut Vos Ingredior
|Nocturna Sublimina Sepulturum (Johe Vigde)||vocals||1993–present||Played in Decessum (1991-1993)|
|Abyssus (Petrovin "Petr" Kristens)||guitar||1993–present||Played in Decessum (1991-1993) also|
|Vampir (Kristian Visten)||guitar||2002–present||Played in a Norwegian black metal band Kryptikalys (1992-2002) and a Finnish death metal group Anti-Christian (1989-1992)|
|Belgoth (Hansen Ivegst)||bass||1997–present||Played in Finland's Rupture of Sun, a death metal band, from 1990-1997, returning to play for them since 2006|
|Varghulf (Peter Grukken)||drums||1993-2000, 2004-present||Played in Decessum (1991-1993), departed in 2000 due to leg injury, returned in 2004|
|Lady Death (Victoria Kristens)||keyboards||2007-present||Played backing keyboards on Mandragoria's The Dark Blood Desire (1995)|
|Name||Instrument||Membership||Reason for departure|
|Jonas Henrikten||guitar||1993-2002||Felt he had spent enough time with Nocturna|
|Joachim Idved||bass||1993-1997||Felt he had spent enough time with Nocturna|
|Krateos (Henri Vikten)||drums||2000-2004||Filled in for Varghulf, and departed when he returned in 2004|
|Nephilim (Andreas Michestnen)||keyboards||1997-2007||Quit the band, according to him due to conflict with Johe Vigde and Petr Kristens|