After four singles to tease us for this upcoming release, Nox Aeterna’s latest album Subject 17 has finally been dropped. This melodic death metalband from the West of the Netherlands have been around for almost 2 decades, and as they say, good wine ripes with age. Let’s take a sip of this new release.
Nox Aeterna has been around for a while. Almost 20 years ago, the band’s first release ‘Unleashed’ saw the light. In the past years, the band has released three albums, and Subject 17 is the fourth. The band has been flying a bit under the radar because they don’t perform that often it seems. Because of that, for some people, this release might come as a bit of a welcome surprise. Subject 17 has been recorded and produced by the band themselves, and they obviously took more than enough time to make sure the album was perfected. With almost a single a year, we’ve been waiting for this album since 2019. I’m sure COVID has played a role in that too, but congrats to the band for finally releasing it.
About the album
Subject 17 is a concept album of 12 tracks that tells the tale of a young ambitious doctor during the rise of modern medicine. During surgery, something happens and he gets infected with a new kind of deadly disease, as we can hear during The Infection. He then turns to controversial experiments to find a cure, but of course, that can’t end well. All of this is pretty easy to follow due to the clearly pronounced grunts by Arnold. It’s always nice that you can actually learn the lyrics to an album without looking up the lyrics.
The Infection was previously released this year so we’ve had a glimpse of what was to come. With the synths and the fast guitar riffs, Nox Aeterna really reminds me of Children of Bodom and Omnium Gatherum. Nox Aeterna plays melodic death metal, but in some tracks, it leans more towards the thrash metal side of the spectrum. For instance the track The Determined. All in all Subject 17 has some great riffs. The Failure of Greatness is an example of that. The main riff proves that a good hook doesn’t need to be complicated, it just needs to flow.
The One almost starts like Needled 24/7 and I’m sure that’s an inspiration for this band, even more so if you hear the riff that follows the intro. I would be surprised if Children of Bodom wasn’t an inspiration for this band, so I’m all for it. Because of the similarities, this also makes me like this track even more.
Morbid Transition is a ballad-like intermezzo to give us a moment of rest in the otherwise filled with heavy and uptempo tracks. It’s also a nice prelude to GodMode, which has a similar riff to the second track of the album, The Infection. This is however the amped-up version, accompanied by pounding drums. It’s also the turning point for the main character of the story so it fits the concept nicely.
The Trick might be the most surprising track of this album. It stands out because of the timing of the main riff and the groovy parts. Where the rest of the tracks are pretty heavy and and a sickening speed, The Trick takes down the tempo just a notch on the groovy parts.
All tracks are layered with synths in the back to compliment the guitars and create that typical melodic death metal sound that made Children of Bodom famous. I think however the band would have benefitted from putting the synths a little more audible in the mix, to balance out the heavy guitars. The mix seems more focussed on the guitars and while that’s good for the solo’s on the album, for other parts a little more balance would have been nice. It makes the mix feel more raw and gritty on some track than I feel it’s supposed to be.
As a whole Subject 17, is a nice record to listen to, and I’m sure a lot of people will appreciate it. Even if you’re not necessarily a fan of melodic death metal, because of the heaviness and fast riffs even more old school metalheads might enjoy this album. For me personally, The One is one of the better tracks of the album. The Failure of Greatness would be a good second.
- Scorn Inside
- The Infection
- The failure of greatness
- Victims in abandonment
- Morbid transition
- The one
- The trick
- Subject 17
- The unveiling