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Great for fans of Vittra - 85%

Splimis, January 14th, 2013

Having been a fan of Naglfar for some time now, this is something I absolutely wanted to hear. A demo tape predating my favorite album, Vittra, was too appealing to not hunt down. Beginning with the quality, its just what you'd expect from an aging piece of magnetic tape. All the crackles, snaps, and pops are there, but aren't overwhelming in any way. Another effect of the medium which I'm not too sure about is the speed of the songs. They seem to be slower than their album counterparts. Its completely logical that they would have played the songs slower earlier in their career, but I can't help wondering if the tape has something to do with it. Overall, Ive heard some truly awful sounding black metal tapes, but this isn't one of them, the quality really holds up well for the age.

On to the actual songs. The first track is an acoustic introduction that resembles something you might find on an Agalloch cd. Theres an acoustic guitar, a synthesizer of some kind, some ambient noises, and a few murmuring voices that are impossible to understand. After about a minute it kicks into a slower version of the perennial classic "Enslave the Astral Fortress". The structure is identical to that of the one on Vittra. The biggest difference is that since the song is slower, Jens Ryden has a few more syllables in his vocal pattern. His voice is also slightly grainier and lower pitch. Also, the solo is much easier to hear in this version, which I think is because of the guitar tone.

Third on the track list is "Sunless Dawn". Its also basically the same as the album version, just significantly slowed down, and without the little ending riff. Not much to say about that. The fourth track "The Eclipse of the Infernal Storms" is much the same in its differences from the album version. The leads are more pronounced as well as the synths than they are on Vittra. Jens' voice is more sustained, and almost tortured sounding. The song ends with, instead of a fade, a direct lead in to a final coda track, pretty much a reprise of the intro.

This is a cool thing to hear if you're a die hard fan of Naglfar, especially the earlier material. If you can get your hands on it, I definitely recommend giving it a listen. A good portrait of a style of black metal that just doesn't get played very much anymore.