Greatest of Deceivers
posted on 11/2012 By:
Like numerous acts that thrive in the second tier, Nidingr sounds a little like a lot of bands, but exactly like none of them. There isn’t much that is wholly original about their overall sound, but it is in how they shape the clay of their influences into a new sculpture that they succeed. On Greatest of Deceivers (which stands for “god,” meaning that god itself is the greatest of deceivers, if the cover wasn’t clear enough), their black metal intersects aggression with majesty, and confrontation with melody, crafting an organic, cutthroat album that ought to appeal to a very wide spectrum of fans.
Nidingr spends as much time forcing punchy chugs down the listener’s throat as they do crafting swirling, intersecting tremolo lines, and that’s the beauty – they are as adept at penning accessible brutality as they are at ascending the fiery heights of Nightbringer. Slight dynamic touches – in the form of soft passages or the off-kilter riffing heard in “All Crowns Fall” – add variety, as do the occasional, ever-so-slight touches of theatricality. The latter can be heard in certain passages of “Vim Patior,” which feel just a symphonic element away from getting into Emperor (or, gasp, 90s Dimmu Borgir) territory. However, even in these brief moments when the knife is removed, there is little doubt about Nidingr’s murderous intent. There is nary a passive, merciful moment to be found.
The album’s frequent rhythmic shifts between swarming tremolo work and homicidal force mean that Nidingr must excel at transitions, and the use of phrase-ending “hooks” – such as the jagged up-picked dissonant chords that Deathspell Omega utilizes – are employed frequently and effectively. Transitions between songs are handled equally well. The softer outro of the title track directly gives way to the chaotic start of “All Crowns Fall,” and the somewhat reserved chugging at the end of “O Thou Empty God” is a perfect lead-in to the slithery beginning of the utterly insane(ly addictive) “The Balances,” creating a welcome amount of flow that is rarely heard in such a relentless style.
Full integration of a skilled rhythm section (bass as an actual moving part and as much blasting insanity as is required of the drums) adds to the fact that Greatest of Deceivers just feels complete. But even with all of the instrumental prowess on display here, the real star is vocalist Cpt. Estrella Grasa, whose tortured, emotive half-preaching delivery gives the album a boatload more depth than a standard screech job would. Combined with some of the more melodic moments, his work gives off a bit of a Code vibe, albeit without Kvohst’s frequent (and impeccable) singing. A guest appearance by Garm in highlight “The Worm is Crowned” is a doozy, creating a moment of such grandiose Arcturus glory that might actually come a bit early on the album, as the final three, perfectly fine songs feel a bit underwhelming in comparison to such a linchpin of a passage.
Greatest of Deceivers isn’t perfect – they rely on the DsO up-strummed riffs a mite too much, and it probably goes on a tad long – but any faults are largely inconsequential. This thing rips, in exactly the way that fans of ripping black metal like their black metal to rip. Riffs, vehement attitude, grandeur, and pure malevolent force define this beast, and just because Nidingr didn’t invent the game they play doesn’t mean they can’t compete with the big boys. By nature, Greatest of Deceivers won’t end up on as many best-of-2012 lists as more ambitious works, but being a critical darling doesn’t always equate to being a safe purchase. So feast, ye hungry blackened horde, on the malice of Nidingr.
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