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Formed in Sweden in 1992, Naglfar has five full-length releases total since then. 'Pariah' is their fourth full-length. They've gone through quite a few lineup changes since their first coming together as an official band. Four members are featured on this one. Their latest release entitled 'Harvest' is the only other album that I own out of their entire discography.
Naglfar's genre falls under the category of melodic black metal. Andreas Nilsson is on lead/rhythm guitars, Marcus Norman also is on lead/rhythm guitars, Kristoffer "Wrath" Olivius plays bass/vocals and Mattias Grahn is on drums. On this release, Wrath plays bass and sings. Morgon Lie replaces Wrath on bass for their 'Harvest' album.
In terms of the sound, I'd say that the quality is only mediocre. It's difficult to hear all of the instruments in unison with one another. The rhythm guitars however are decent from what I am able to hear of them. The tempos are quite fast for the most part but there are sections where they are slower paced. All in all, the time signatures guitar wise are quite fast tremolo picking and drum beats are blasts gallore.
Guitar wise, the melodies are quite good. They have a unique sound to them from what I can amass. If they had a better production, I would probably give this album a higher rating. Wrath's vocal outputs are pretty much the same for the whole album. His voice features higher-end screaming with not much variety.
Wrath mostly sings about evil and darkness. It fits well with the music. On their limited edition digipack, there is a cover song entitled "The Calling Blaze" which is originally sung by Throne Of Ahaz. In addition, their Japanese release features a song entitled "Skulls" (overall source: http://www.metal-archives.com/release.php?id=77021).
Again, if Naglfar's sound quality was better on this album, I would give it a higher rating. I'm not saying that it's a complete waste to purchase. But as I stated before, it's difficult to hear the guitar riffs as well as the music altogether. Their latest release I think is a much better output. 'Pariah' does still have some key melodies however. The band lineup shows talent and Wrath's vocals are good.
Some tracks to hear which are my favorites include "A Swarm Of Plagues", "Revelations Carved In Flesh", "None Shall Be Spared" and "The Perpetual Horrors." The total length for the release clocks in at almost 40 minutes. You can view their web site at http://www.naglfar.net/.
I haven't heard a great deal of black metal that I can really get behind, but this album is one I would highly recommend. Let's start off with the high points of Pariah. What really catches my attention right off the bat is Kristoffer's explosive vocals. The utter sound of hatred and disgust he puts into every lyric gives these songs their almost epic feel. His vocals demand your attention! Yet, it doesn't seem like he's being fake or over the top, which is something all too common with a lot of black metal. You then immediately notice the hammering sound of the double-bass kick and the rest of the drum kit being beaten to hell, but not so much that it's just convoluted and distracting.They keep a good rhythm and pace with the rest of the band. Let's move onto the guitar work, so rhythmic and fast-paced, yet controlled. It produces such an eerie feel that you can't help but be captivated by. The melodic guitar work paints a picture of warfare and post-Armageddon doom. It almost puts you in a trance. Not extremely technical, but nothing to scoff at either. The guitar is more about the fast-paced melody that goes together perfectly with the vocals.
Now, the low points of this album. The main thing that keeps this album from being phenomenal is the repetition of EVERYTHING. The vocals don't really change up throughout the course of the album at all. This isn't that big of a deal to me, seeing as how there aren't a lot of clean vocals in black metal to begin with. The drums get very boring really quickly. They seem as if their only purpose is to carry the rest of the band. Blasting double bass kicks can only last so long. The guitar work as much as I appreciate it, starts to sound the same on every track. It seems to go in the same direction for every song and it gets very predictable. In fact, every song as a whole is constructed pretty much the same way. However, I can find enough differences in each track to keep me listening which is why I gave it a rating of 90. If you listen to a lot of melodeath, black, or technical metal. You probably won't be too impressed with this album. However, if you're looking for something a little different that can ignite the fury within you, this album will probably be for you.
Naglfar are back with their 4th album entitled “Pariah”. Naglfar has never caught my attention enough for me to count myself as their fan, but after this, who knows? This is by all means not bad, nor is it something groundbreaking… Let’s just call it “satisfactory”. You see, the first thing that strikes one upon the first listen is the simplicity this is all about. The production is pretty weak-sounding, and the music itself does very little to keep itself going. Safe it feels, but a certain degree of complexity should have been added for this to be good.
For example, they’ve clearly given their stronger tracks a lower position on the album, so basically, the farther you progress listening to the album, the worse it gets. The thing that rescues this from mediocrity is the fact that the first songs work really well. “A Swarm of Plagues” & “Spoken Words of Venom”, easily the best songs on here, features some great guitar-work and great musicianship. The first mentioned has a different kind of build-up structure than the usual ones, and the chorus is great on that one. The drummer keeps bashing the shit out of his kit, but so little of the actual beats are heard clearly, so that falls kind of flat. Same goes for the bass, you can’t really hear what’s going on there, other than it follows the guitar quite often. “The Murder Manifesto”, “Revelations Carved in Flesh” & None Shall Be Spread” are the mediocre tracks. “None Shall Be Spread” starts out with a creepy piano-melody, and proceeds with great guitar-work as well as tight drumming. But then it all spreads out, and we’ve heard it all before. Such is the case for the remaining tracks also. Particularly the closer “Carnal Scorn & Spiritual Malice” starts quite nicely, but doesn’t hold up to the end.
While I’ve nagged a lot about weak song structure and so on, it’s not all that bad. Actually, the reason why I’m giving it such a high score is that it all fits together on some levels. For instance, while several tracks may sound quite alike, it works because of the minor changes between them. The black metal sound these guys play around with may never suit my taste, but the actual writing inspires me. This is not a bad album. It’s just not very thought through. Even so, I really enjoy giving this album a listen now and then. Next time, if they start to look elsewhere for inspiration, maybe they will succeed better.