Review Summary: A worthwhile addition to any Melodic Death or Black Metal fan's collection.
For the most part, Black Metal usually consists of 3 things; bad production, uncomprehensible vocals, and lyrics usually revolving around the darker side of things, such as satanism, death, suicide, murder, or other topics such as these. However, while those things may define for some what makes a great black metal album, there are other bands out there who dont really follow all those descriptions. Naglfar is one of these bands. From the great country of Sweden, home to some of the finest metal acts ever, Naglfar has a sound typically called "Blackened Death Metal" or "Melodic Black Metal". This kind of music is great for those who enjoy both Melodic Death and Black Metal, or people who want to ease into Black Metal without diving headfirst into bands such as Darkthrone, Leviathan, Mayhem, Burzum, Dissection, or other classic Black Metal bands. What Naglfar does is combine black metal type vocals and wrap them around intricate riffs, melodic solos, and even some catchy choruses. All this is done with top notch production and the finest attention to detail. In other words, this is one of the most flawlessly produced Black Metal albums out there, which is a good thing because you can sort of understand what is going on, unlike albums such as Mayhem's infamous "Dawn Of The Blackhearts". Don't think that all is lost for you true Black Metal fans out there, the lyrics are very dark and deal a lot with death and suicide, as one can probably tell through the amazing cover art (which I think is awesome). Also, the vocalist (and former bassist) Kristoffer Olivius does an excellent job with his lyrics and performance, you can see he puts a lot of effort forward to try and match the throat of former vocalist Jens Ryden. Olivius does do a great job in getting his sound as close as possible to Jens', which is a good thing because Jens was a great vocalist.
"Into The Black" opens with a haunting riff, setting the tone quickly. A growl is let out by Olivius as the music speeds up, and then the vocals come in with their full force. Olivius has a higher pitched, raspy scream, which suits this kind of music perfectly. The riffing is melodic in the chorus, but it still retains its dark and brooding tone, which is quite a hard feat to pull off. You can hear all of the instruments throughout the CD, with none being drowned out by others. You can also even understand Olivius' screams too, which helps because his lyrics are amazing, and even get poetic at times, often rhyming. Some simple guitar picking finishes the song off, a very good and fitting opener to this album. Next comes the fast paced "Breathe Through Me", starting off loud and fast. This song is more of a straight forward Black Metal song, as its not really melodic but goes at a furious pace. The first solo of the album is also featured in this song, its rather short but VERY fast, and solos usually aren't something you see in Black Metal. "The Mirrors Of My Souls" begins with a good riff, getting right into things, as the vocals come in shortly afterword. The lyrics here are also very dark and poetic, I especially enjoy the lyrics in the chorus, they're worth a read if you're listening to this song. It's especially evident on this song that the central focus of this CD is the vocals, because they are usually there for the majority of each of the songs, but its not hard to get used to and enjoy the vocals on this CD.
"Odium Generis Humanis" is a typical Naglfar song, nothing really that new is introduced, but then again nothing is especially bad about this song. The vocals are very prominent and the riffing is fast and is occasionaly melodic. "The Darkest Road" opens with a awesome shriek from Olivius before breaking into a good riff, the chorus on this song is really one of the better ones here, I find it to be really catchy and well written. "Way Of The Rope" is the second longest song on the CD, clocking in at 5:56, with a cool melodic beginning, not really that fast, which is a good change of pace from the unrelenting nature of the previous songs. There are also some cool distorted vocals on this track, which add soem more atmosphere to the song. I really enjoy this song, its one of the more original and solid songs on the album, also the placement of it helps, as it provides something new from the previous 5 songs. "Plutonium Reveries" is much like "Odium Generis Humanis" as its another typical Naglfar song, nothing really special or worth pointing out, but it's also not a bad song. Just sort of a filler track in my opinion.
"Feeding Moloch" begins with some haunting piano notes before being overlapped by an equally haunting (but sweet) guitar riff, very ominous and one of the more original and cool openings Naglfar has done. The vocals then come in immediatley, being as furious as ever. At about 1:50 there is cool section where the guitars and vocals trade off, really hard to explain but I think it sounds really sweet, and adds some more melody to this track. The lyrics on this song are about killing mostly, and are very interesting, if not a bit morbid. The solo on this song is enjoyable, but not overly intricate or difficult. One of the best tracks here for sure.
The closer and title track, "Harvest" is really an epic and one of the best songs Naglfar has yet produced. The riff at the beginning is pure ecstasy, being very melodic and almost epic feeling, just amazing, I could listen to it 100 times over and never be sick of it. The vocals are slower and more emotional, backed by riffing which is the most melodic on the album. The chorus is really great here too, with Olivius' furious and desperate cries backed by epic and melodic riffing, this chorus will be in your head for a long time. I think this song shows more of the Swedish side of Naglfar, with a LOT of melodic death metal influences, with the slower and emotional vocals backed by harmonized guitars, really, really enjoyable if you like melodic death. Also around 4:25 is one of the only really audible bass lines, before breaking into a final chorus, with an amazing amount of emotion packed into it you wonder why Naglfar couldn't write a whole album full of songs like this. Soft guitars slow it down, all the way to the bitter end of perhaps Naglfar's greatest song yet.
So, what is there to say about Naglfar's 5th album.... brutal, melodic, emotional, and about a million other ways to describe their sound throughout this album. While some songs are indeed repetitive, its worth giving Naglfar a chance, because especially with the last two tracks, its shows how original and amazing this band can be, if only they can write a whole album of songs like "Feeding Moloch" and "Harvest" it would be a 5 for sure. Its worth picking up if you do see it in the store, as I'm sure you will be pleased with it.
- Good Vocals
- Melodic Guitars
- Good Lyrics
- At times very emotional
- Not for die-hard Black Metal fans
- Feeding Moloch
- Into The Black