posted on 2/2004 By:
Naglfar. I think at some point I had listened to a used CD by this band and put it back without buying it. But I can't say for sure - there are a shitload of used black metal type CDs at my friend's shop, and as the style rarely appeals to me if I don't catch anything worth my attention on the initial listen, I just toss it back in the pile without taking much note of who or why. The name sounds very familiar to me in the context of the used bin, though.
This is a reissue, but I am treating it like a new release because I have no choice. It's a basic Black Metal act with slightly better production than some similar stuff I have heard, but it's obviously a black metal production job. The guitars are buzzsaw distorted with that almost not distorted sound the church burners seem to like best. The bass is not really a bass so much as a singly plucked guitar string. But at least you can hear it. The singer is actually a little more emotive than most BM screechers, but just a little. The drums are somewhere between coffee cans and a decent kit. Everything is echoed to the point of annoyance, but again that's kind of standard BMing.
The songwriting is pretty good. It's pretty standard stuff, but maybe this is a reissue of the record that "started it all". Whatever, the songs are varied in tempo and style, which means you don't get bored with it as easily. Thematically it's Satan Blasphemy Suicide...same old shit. The musicianship is decent, but nothing stands out about it.
Bottom Line: I don't have any knowledge of the importance of this disc to the black metal scene, nor do I give much of a fuck. It was a pleasant enough listen and seems like it would please the BM faithful with its fiery performances and adherence to the form. For the average metalhead I think this is a good black metal record if you are looking for something in that style. It's got the kind of production that lets you appreciate what the band is trying to do, and it has some good songwriting. Especially if you need an introduction to black metal, this is a great place to start. I will listen to this on occasion.
posted on 11/2007 By:
I’ve got a confession to make. So I know that Naglfar is fundamentally a Dissection clone (well, not total clone, but more on that later). And I know that the general ethos among metalheads on matters such as this is as follows: the band who did it first did it best, period. But here it is, straight out—I like Naglfar better. By a broad margin at that. Not kosher, I know, but I happened to hear these guys first, and my brain must’ve latched onto them as the paragon of this particular marriage of black metal and melodic thrash. Further, as far as I’m concerned, Diabolical was Naglfar’s peak. Though I enjoy Naglfar’s more polished recent releases as well, something about the grandiose melodies and gritty-but-assertive production on this album truly strikes home. Though this re-release of Diabolical comes with no extras and an only moderately improved mastering job, I can’t help but approve of it for making some damn fine black metal easier for younger metalheads to find.
Many of you already know full well what this sounds like, and the rest can probably imagine it. The screamingly obvious reference point is, of course, Dissection, somewhere between The Somberlain and Storm of the Light’s Bane (right down to the echo effect on Jens Ryden’s voice). Of course this brings the ripoff tag down on Naglfar’s heads, but I maintain that there are some small—but significant—differences between the two bands’ sounds. Specifically, Naglfar tone the thrash content down, bring the production a little more up front, and dispense with the acoustic breaks that Nottveidt and company were so fond of. The result is a collection of virtually dynamic-free melodic black metal tracks (save one piano interlude) that trade some distinctiveness for a much colder, more impenetrable atmosphere of evil. This works surprisingly well with the band's relentlessly twining tremolo melodies, which are catchy enough to actually make for a few highlight tracks (“Horncrowned Majesty,” “Into the Cold Voids of Eternity,” “When Autumn Storms Come,” “Diabolical – The Devil’s Child”). Other black metal bands of all stripes would do well to take notice--being able to tell your songs apart is a good thing.
Honestly, the market for this one isn’t very big; if you don’t already have a copy of it there’s a good chance that you don’t want one, and the lack of extras gives those who already have it exactly zero incentive to buy another. That said, if a few more people get their hands on Diabolical then it has my blessing. This will never qualify as great, but black metal fans still ought to get familiar with it.
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