posted on 4/2007 By:
Considering that melodrama and pseudo-philosophical self importance often go hand in hand with black metal music, I’ve always appreciated those bands who contribute positively to the style without relying on theatrics or exclusivism. Naglfar have long been one of those bands, and a steadfastly reliable one as well. While their practice of churning out slab after slab of catchy, intense melodic black metal hasn’t changed much since their debut in the mid-nineties, they’ve remained one of black metal’s most consistently entertaining and listenable acts, and that trend holds true with this year’s effort. Though Harvest’s standing relative to Naglfar’s other work will depend entirely on listener preference, there’s no doubt that this is as well-composed and professional a chunk of metal as they’ve ever released.
As frequently as Naglfar are accused of ripping off Dissection, I maintain that there’s a marked difference between the two bands’ sounds. Where Dissection was primarily concerned with projecting a whirling, elaborate melodic backdrop to Jon Nodveidt’s Satanic chatter, Naglfar pursue a leaner, more aggressive course. Naglfar provide a blast-heavy, riff oriented take on the older band’s sound that I personally find preferable to that of Nodveidt’s outfit. Guitarists Vargher and Andreas Nilsson are seasoned veterans who sound at home with both buzzsaw rage (“Prayer of Cain”) and less caustic melody (“Into the Black,” “The Mirrors of My Soul”). This allows them to craft a relatively varied and intensely hooky set of black metal tunes that switches from entrancing speed to hateful grooves and from all-out flensing guitar savagery to dour, majestic melodicism without ever catching a hitch. Vocalist and former guitarist Wrath turns in his second performance after replacing the excellent Jens Ryden, and he appears to have come into his own. Though his vocals on Pariah seemed a little thin and underpowered, his over-the-top spiteful ranting is far more caustic and believable this time around. The rhythm section of Peter Morgan Lie on bass and the talented Mattias Grahn provides an extremely solid and somewhat death metal-informed rhythmic framework that manages a good deal of detail and intricacy without ever stealing Vargher and Nilsson’s thunder.
Though Harvest’s relatively fancy Wolf’s Lair/Marcus Norman production and Naglfar’s tendency to flaunt the rigid code of black metal showmanship ensures that much of the BM “elite” will scoff at this disc, the fact remains that this is a damn enjoyable album that is jam packed with hummable, infectious riffing and white knuckle nihilistic aggression. These guys are not and probably never will be a top-tier band, but honestly this sort of workmanlike dependency and honesty is sometimes all a band needs. Recommended for the black metal fan who just wants to headbang every now and again.
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