Saturday, 15 September 2012

CD Review: Sheol, by Naglfar (2003)

Within the rigid confines of black metal's unforgiving outer structure, Naglfar find a surprising amount of inspiration to pack into Sheol, their third studio album.

The Swedish purveyor's of dark doom deliver a particularly strong first half. Opener I Am Vengeance is all spitting fury and dark orange fire balls, Jens Ryden's vocals somewhere between fingernails-on-chalkboard and chewing glass. Black God Aftermath continues in the same vein, an angry mid-tempo laced with haunted house themes, furniture covered by thick cobwebs in every corner as the band explores a pleasing emphasis on playful tunes.

Abysmal Descent pulls it all together, reaching the admittedly less than spectacular peak of what black metal has to offer, with the pace slowed down and the guitars of Andreas Nilsson and Marcus Norman trading thoughtful riffs and breaking as far to the melodic side of black as the genre allows. A quiet interlude punctured only by the sound of a baby crying earns the seal of cheap horror approval.

For all the attempts to add colour, black of course dominates, and the second half of Sheol reverts back to the roots of the genre, a sameness descending onto the material, the frantic spook factor amped up and the more interesting shadings consigned to the background.

Naglfar get on with the job of producing professional black metal, Sheol tugging at the boundaries but finding the envelope quite thick with foundational sludge.


Jens Ryden - Vocals
Mattias Grahn - Drums
Andreas Nilsson - Guitars
Kristoffer Olivius - Bass
Marcus Norman - Guitars

Songlist (ratings out of 10):

1. I Am Vengeance - 8
2. Black God Aftermath - 8
3. Wrath Of The Fallen - 7
4. Abysmal Descent - 9
5. Devoured By Naglfar - 7
6. Of Gorgons Spawned Through Witchcraft - 7
7. Unleash Hell - 7
8. Force Of Pandemonium - 7
9. The Infernal Ceremony - n/a (short instrumental)

Average: 7.50

Engineered by Nils Johansson.

All Ace Black Blog Heavy Metal CD Reviews are here.

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