Pavor Nocturnus is Australia’s The Night Terrors indulging their dark, occult side with brooding, lustful glee. They’ve flirted with that side of their sound on their previous records Back To Zero and Spiral Vortex, but never to this degree. On those previous records there were hints of horror, but those albums settled more in the sci-fi and space realm; they felt like progressive records scoring some lost, epic fantasy film with heavy synths and theremin. They were otherworldly and intense. But this time around galaxies and wormholes have been set aside for the macabre. Pavor Nocturnus is a dark, brooding, and intense musical journey.
The Night Terrors recorded this album thanks to the Melbourne Town Hall and their request for the band to compose a piece of music on the Town Hall’s pipe organ. This is not just some run-of-the-mill pipe organ. This is the southern hemisphere’s largest pipe organ. Standing three stories tall, this is a gothic monolith. The band had just released their album Spiral Vortex and were going to go on a tour in support of that album, but felt that this was too great of an opportunity to pass up. So they recorded the album in the middle of the night on a Friday the 13th(nice, huh?) The album’s title refers more to the fact that they recorded the record late at night, more than wanting to be spooky. But yes, Pavor Nocturnus is “The Night Terrors” in Latin.
As far as the music goes, the album is split up into two movements. Movement One is side A and consists of “Pavor Nocturnus”, “Megafauna”, “Asleep With The Bats”, and “Kuceli Woke Up In The Graveyard”. Movement Two on side B consists of “Blue Black”, “Gravissima”, “Delta Waves”, and “Spectrophilia”. Each side does feel like four distinct tracks, yet they flow effortlessly like a true piece of gothic music. Where Miles Brown’s theremin would often act as a detached voice singing a melody on previous albums, this time around it feels almost operatic. It’s sound haunting like a ghost within the walls of some long forgotten castle. The pipe organ, while a heavy hitter in the overall sound of the record, never feels overused or pushed up in the mix. It definitely acts as the foundation of the record. It gives the band a solid starting point to build these great songs. Movement One’s “Pavor Nocturnus”, while not having any sort of guitar, comes on like a doom metal heavy hitter with the pipe organ filling every nook and cranny with gothic massiveness. With the synth stabs and Brown’s theremin playing overhead, and some great drumming to keep the track moving, it’s a great way to introduce the album. “Megafauna” is as progressive as it is macabre. It’s as if Goblin came from space and not some crumbling estate in the Italian countryside to create music. It sounds like it should be the theme of Phantom of the Opera: A Space Opera. There’s a great mix of intense and subtle, with “Kuceli Woke Up In The Graveyard” ending the side on a more quieter note. Movement Two opens with the rather mournful “Blue Black”, reminiscent of Walter Rizzatti’s work on the House By The Cemetery score, and “Gravissima” continues that vibe quite wonderfully. “Delta Waves” is mournful and epic, while the closer “Spetrophilia” puts the southern hemisphere’s largest pipe organ front and center while the theremin moves along wonderfully with it.
Pavor Nocturnus is a stellar, gothic piece of music that doesn’t require a love of the macabre and all the things that go bump in the night. But if you’re like me, it definitely enhances the experience. The Night Terrors have created yet another beautiful and haunting record that should be standard listening on Halloween, or beyond.
9.2 out of 10
As an added bonus, if you were in Melbourne, Australia on Halloween you could have seen The Night Terrors perform Pavor Nocturnus live at the Melbourne Town Hall. A sight and sound to behold, I’m sure.