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Despite, the line-up changes and the consequent shrinkage to only three solid members left, Naglfar manage to keep their style even in 2012 and they are therefore offering everything one could have expected. They tend to copy themselves, sometimes even with references to older songs. Good examples would be songs like III: Death Dimension Phanatasma (which references to The Way Of The Rope) or Pale Horse. Both songs feature melodies you heard in similiar way before, but they are still fresh enough to keep their right to exist. It’s clear that this fact has two sides: On the one hand it guarantees a high qualitative thickness, as Naglfar never produced any real bad songs, but on the other hand it enforces this “hey, I`ve heard this before” feeling in your head.
Although they are featuring ideas and melodies of the past, they made some little changes to Téras as well. Especially the slower songs are much more compact and complex than their previous songs. The really slow, doomy opener and titletrack Téras or the midtempo epos Bring Out Your Dead may be paragons. The orchestration nearly remained the same, with the drums making an exception. Session musician Dirk Verbeuren added so much details, that the songs gain another level of complexity and freshness. Epic passages are scattered over the record as well, like in the middle section of Come Perdition and even fast and tight songs like Black God Aftermath are featured in the form of Pale Horse and others. Whatever, Naglfar didn’t manage to produce songs that exceed the “above average” limit and the record doesn’t really feature any special highlight, as only some songs have the tendencies to become ones.
Téras is a really solid life sign of a band, that nearly vanished to oblivion. The Swedes try to balance between tradition and fresh winds but sadly the tradition wins this balancing act. This results in songs, that feature melodies you heard before in a quite similiar way on a previous record of the band as they use their standard formula without real changes. Therefore, they recorded nine really solid and good songs, which should exite every old fan, but they failed in setting a real sign.
Written for http://threnodies.com
Buying an album based on the cover art alone has always been a huge gamble, as I’m sure we all know. Despite most of the random purchases we make being better used for target practice, we have been able to come away with pure gold every once in a while. This is exactly how I stumbled onto Naglfar. In April of 2003 I was browsing through my local record store on “media day,” meaning the day when new albums, DVDs, and video games would be released to the public, and I happened to find their album, “Sheol.” I had never heard of Naglfar before that, but “Sheol“‘s cover art really drew me in, and little did I know that beast of melodic black metal was going to introduce me to a whole new world. Since that day I have been a loyal Naglfar fan, and on the eve of the release of their sixth full-length, “Téras,” I am lucky enough to be dissecting every piece of it for you.
“Téras” begins with a two minute musical introduction with a dreary and slow beat to it, which transcends into the black metal that we all know and love in ‘Pale Horse.’ One thing that immediately comes to mind is that the straight-up black metal seems to be more upfront than in previous releases with the help of some melodic leads put over them. However, even though “Téras“ has some good moments, it tends to be schizophrenic when it comes to the overall song-writing quality.
The first two tracks come strong, but ‘III: Death Dimension Phantasma’ is a very weak track that lacks in the catchy hooks or black metal brutality that Naglfar is known for. While the beginning of ‘The Monolith’ is wonderfully crafted and engaging, it gets fairly predictable until about the middle of the song, where they break it up and once again rely on the slower tempo. Passages like this can be done well and Naglfar has done just that in the past, but there is nothing else to make me want to listen to the rest of the song besides the beginning. The same can be said about the next two tracks, ‘An Extension Of His Arm And Will’ and ‘Bring Out Your Dead.’ Honestly, that Monty Python sketch is the perfect visual metaphor for ”Téras” because while I know their was still music playing, my first instinct was to just to ignore it the majority of the time as the music kept trying to get me to acknowledge its presence with its fleeting cries.
“Téras” doesn’t pick up steam until ‘Come Perdition’ comes up and brings back some wonderful melodic speed with them. The epic interlude at the half-point drew me in, and once the rest of the band joins in I can feel that original Naglfar magic happening. ’Invoc(H)ate’ is probably the strongest track on this album because it’s aggressive with its sharp melodies and makes you focus on everything that is being thrown at you. The last song, ‘The Dying Flame Of Existence,’ is a perfect representation of when I alluded to Naglfar being able to pull off slower tempos very well.
Unfortunately, those three tracks come a bit too late for ”Téras” to be saved as a whole. An overwhelming amount of the riffs felt either rushed or rehashed in some form. Dirk Verbeuren (Scarve, Soilwork) was the session drummer for ”Téras,” and he normally does fantastic work on whatever he is playing on, but it really felt like Naglfar didn’t want him doing anything too “out there” with most of the music. Because of those two debilitating factors ”Téras” suffered majorly, but at least Kristoffer’s vocals sounded really good throughout the album.
Naglfar is more than capable of creating memorable melodic black metal, but ”Téras” is not where you will find it. There is not much that will keep you completely drawn into the album other than the last three tracks, but the middle of the album is pretty abysmal and forgettable. At this rate if you’re looking for some really good melodic black metal in this new year I would check out Hellsaw’s latest release instead, as they and Naglfar are very similar.
Originally written for Metal Blast: http://www.metalblast.net/2012/03/naglfar-teras/
Some Scandinavian bands seem to be perpetually in the shadow of their most popular colleagues. This is undeniably the case for Naglfar, a Swedish horde founded in 1992, which proved unable to rank among the great black metal representatives of their country, like Dissection, Marduk or Dark Funeral. Part of this sad fate is probably explained by the intrinsic characteristics of the band's music. Practicing an average melodic black metal, these rascals from Umeå never succeeded in finding their own unique musical identity that distinguishes them, condemning them to a certain indifference on the part of fans. Five years have passed since the release of Harvest (2007), a long pause that concludes with a new album called Teras (2012). Was the wait was worth it?
Well, yes. Without revolutionizing anything, this new album is in my humble opinion the best by the group up to date. I especially notice a sincere effort at composition, to avoid repetition and ease, which became too evident on previous albums. After an eponymous introduction Pale Horse tumbles at full speed and brutalizes the listener without notice. Fast and built on some very good riffs, this song is really catchy. It continues with Death Dimension Phantasma, again played at full speed, but embellished by melodic passages that make us remain attentive. The Monolith nevertheless is a break in the rhythm, with a mid-tempo that I would have preferred later in the album. Serious matters will resume when An Extension of His Arm and Will and its thrash approach, also used on Bring Out Your Dead. The group does not slow down and the last three songs are also very well written, never give in filling, a fault that I noticed on Harvest and Pariah (2005). The Dying Flame of Existence perfectly concludes this excellent album, with its dark and evil atmosphere.
The five-year break taken by Naglfar pays off. The writing benefits tremendously from it, giving us the right to three-quarters of an hour of great Swedish black metal. A nice surprise from a band from which I was not expecting much. 8/10
Originally written for metalobscur.com
Five years after the release of their last album (which many consider their masterpiece) Harvest, Naglfar have finally released Téras. After just a few minutes into the album, you can clearly see where these guys stand in the metal world. There’s just something so much better when a musically talented black metal band records with good equipment instead of opting for that lo-fi crap some bands call music these days. This album can easily be considered their new masterpiece as it tops Harvest in every way.
The opener “Téras” is a melodic intro into the abyss you will soon find yourself. “Pale Horse” is when things get real. Ferocious music that is compromised of blast beats and guitars that almost go into progressive territory, yet doesn’t. Pretty noteworthy that guitarists Nilsson and Norman have found that fine line between the two genres and doesn’t cross it. It covers both old school and modern black metal as well. The first forty seconds of the song are done in the old school style with off beat drums and mood setting guitars. Then Wrath kicks in with an echoed scream before all hell breaks loose. His vocals are second to none in the black metal world and are a force of their own.
Just when you think all stops were pulled on the first track, “III: Death Dimension Phantasma” proves wrong. While Dirk Verbeuran was only the session drummer for the album, he fits perfectly with the band with his tenacity to go one hundred percent with the flow of the band. Their use of transitions between different musical sections within the song flows like water while encompassing a phenomenal range. Then halfway in the song, there’s a haunting and talented solo that gives away to a heavy bass driven verse that’s rarely seen in black metal, yet it’s done in that style.
One line they arguably crossed slightly over into is the thrash realm in “An Extension Of His Arm And Will.” It follows closely with old school Celtic Frost type of thrash, but giving it more of a heavier black metal makeover. The opening guitar lines just bring you back to 80’s thrash in terms of tone, until Dirk’s insane drumming skills kick into gear and lay waste to everything (in a good way of course). Wrath’s vocals are a tad lower than usual, which fits this particular song perfectly.
Téras is easily one of the greatest black metal albums ever made. In terms of all the grounds it covers with its innovativeness and musical design, its decades of black metal rolled into one epic package. You would be a fool to pass up listening to this album. Go pick up a copy at the CM Distro link below and do treat yourself to something amazing.
Yes, it's been nearly five years since Naglfar last released an album and yes, it has been worth the wait. Mostly. What can you expect from them except very competent, well-played, and well- produced melodic black metal? Not much more, but there's really nothing wrong with doing one thing very well, and that's exactly what Naglfar do.
Musically, what we're talking about here is powerful and vicious-sounding black metal with a melodic edge that is achieved through lead guitar lines rather than piles of keyboard sounds (although Naglfar make limited use of keyboards occasionally, it is very much in the background or as intros/outros and used for atmosphere). The blasting and black metal ferocity is relentless when it needs to be, but the band have a very dynamic approach to songwriting that is incredibly potent and grabs the listener by the throat.
Vocally and lyrically is where Naglfar truly shine. Vocalist Kristoffer Olivius has a great throat-ripping rasp that really takes center stage in the songs and drips with malice and ungodly power. He's also very understandable, which is good because his lyrics (I assume he's the main lyricist) are extremely nasty and add a lot to the overall vibe. It's good to have an obsessed lyricist, as this increases the potency of the message the writer wants to put forth, and Olivius is clearly obsessed with the end of the world and the extermination of all human life. Indeed most songs are about this, but each has a slightly different character. For example, 'Bring Out Your Dead' comes from the perspective of a black death-type plague and 'Pale Horse' obviously has a biblical, death-bringer aspect. On the other hand, the song 'The Monolith' is an HP Lovecraft Cthullu song, and is something no metal band seems complete without, so Naglfar finally have theirs.
Overall, this is an extremely solid album, well worth hearing if you crave black metal nastiness with some melodic interest and a decent production (not all BM needs to have zero production values to retain its potency). But it's just not as good as some albums they've released in the past. In fact, it seems like a lesser version of 'Harvest', their last album. If, like me, you've been waiting for the new album for five years, then you won't be disappointed, but won't be completely bowled over, either. But if you're just starting with the band, maybe go further back into their history first, then move up through their albums. Teras is good, but the majority of the songs are in the good but not great category. The exception is the final epic 'The Dying Flames of Existence', which is truly one of Naglfar's greatest songs ever.
From what I’ve heard (and gathered), Naglfar seems like one of those solid “disappointment act” bands that put out a grand product, but never was really able to reach for the stars, yet still worth their meddle. I’d only been able to partake in a few of their recorded works and was left with a certain amount of satisfaction in their black/death hybrid (a brand that that WORKS versus other acts out there…), at least enough to have my attention drawn to them when their name is mentioned.
And so, with that attention again paid, how does “Teras” fair?
As before, it sounds that, with “Teras”, Naglfar continue their tradition of combining crushing thrash riffs with brutal, icy black metal atmospheres into a tight, steel-clad fist of aggression and rage that always seems missing with other extreme acts these days. And the best part? This whole debacle comes off as GENUINE, a blinding, coherent morass that doesn’t bullshit in any way. A solid product, if you will, and the end result is a collection of raging tempos, semi-strong songwriting, head-bashing heaviness and a few tasty melodic ends thrown into give the listener at least a few seconds of breath-catching before being caught off-guard by another round of pummeling. The guitars and bass come at the listener in several directions at once, the drums pound and desecrate in both the slow and speedy aspects, epic-twinged keys occasionally pop out to further darken the skies and diabolical growls let loose the sincere invective so very missing from black metal acts/albums in this post-church arson-era.
However, not everything is as perfected as it could be. While I’d stated before that the overall output is a solid product, that’s really all it can be in the end. Now, that’s not always a bad thing, but the album’s depth only seems to go so far, the blinding monstrosity of the riffs and blasting drums only carrying head-banging potential. But then again, one mustn’t always consider deep poignancy within the realms of pure extreme music, as even in its most limiting moments, “Teras” still comes off as strong enough to stand on its own two feet within the underground metal circuit. It just is what it is, in the end, and for all its limiting appeal, there’s enough going on it still entertain and cause many a neck muscle to become sore, thanks to the heavier likes of “Pale Horse” and “An Extension of this Arm and Will” and the slower, more brooding “The Monolith” and “Bring Out Your Dead”
At the end of the day, “Teras” is quite the interesting release that can satisfy the urge for uber-violent metal. A reinvention of the wheel may not be present, but who really cares when, in the end, the end result is still a solid and raging affair? Good times, for those who would care for them.