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Ah, Naglfar... A Swedish black metal band both praised by some, and hated by others. They play an ultra-melodic style of black metal, placing them in the category of "melodic black metal." This shit sounds heavily influenced by the also Swedish band Dissection, with it's not necessarily raw, but still somewhat dirty production. It could basically be compared to Dimmu Borgir's remastered version of their "For All Tid" with a slightly more polished production. Some people will compare this band to Cradle of Filth, but honestly, that is an insult to this band. Yes, an insult. Cradle of Filth may be older and more well-known than Naglfar, but they certainly cannot match the majestic beauty of this black metal classic!
The atmosphere here is tremendous. Now, that does not mean the guitars are fuzzy. This is not the same atmosphere of Burzum's "Filosofem." No, no; this is completely different. This atmosphere is all in the melodies. The keyboards and acoustic guitars do their justice in creating one of the best melodic atmospheres your ears could ever be fornicated by. This IS eargasmic music. The first track, entitled "As The Twilight Gave Birth To The Night," begins with a synth intro, sounding very orchestral and symphonic, but not cheesy like the modern Dimmu Borgir shit. This is dark, eerie, and just oh so majestic. The tremolo riffs on "Through The Midnight Spheres" are one of the crowned jewels on this album. They are catchy (holy fuck, did someone just say a black metal song sounds "catchy?!?!?!?!?!") Yes, indeed, a lot of the riffing on this album is quite catchy, but not too catchy. It is the perfect balance of catchy an aggressive. The title track "Vittra" begins with an amazing clean guitar riff, and a scream. This song is just shy of 3 minutes, and it is completely instrumental besides a few spoken word verses and some screams. A synth choir is mixed with the majestic clean guitars, and then, after the break, the electrifying riffs come in with double bass drums... The riffs are purely amazing. The following track "Sunless Dawn" contains some of the album's best riffage, and some of my favourite drum lines. This album closes with the track "Exalted Above Thrones," which is somewhat faster paced in the intro, and the drums are basically similar to what we heard on "Through The Midnight Spheres." The riff that starts at around 0:44 is just breathtaking. This is a perfectly dark song, one of the darker sounding songs on the album, actually. Great way to finish off a classic black metal album, such as this!
Now, who would I recommend this to? Fans of: Dissection, early Dimmu Borgir, fans of the first two Cradle of Filth albums, Vinterland, Catamenia, Covenant, Cryptic Wintermoon, Emperor... Any of the more melodic, majestic, and hell I will even say epic, heroic, huge-sounding black metal bands.
Vittra is the debut release from Sweden's Naglfar. Released on Wrong Again Records (now known as Regain), in May 1995, this bland album added to the already growing dung pile that was desecrating the grave of the Second Wave. While so many classic albums were spawned from 1992-94, they were increasingly difficult to find due to the large number of worthless records that were being pumped out by every third-rate band that wanted to cash in on what had rapidly become the next big trend in metal.
First off, this album is usually classified as black metal, though with the word 'melodic' in tacked onto the beginning of the label. These are the same blind fools that called Dissection melodic death metal, which shows just how backward people can be, sometimes. Vittra has far more in common with the early output from In Flames, as opposed to the likes of Nifelheim, Throne of Ahaz, or old Marduk. It can be stated that this L.P. represents many of the worst qualities that were afflicting the underground, around this time. For one, too much emphasis was being placed on trying to sound pretty, rather than creating an atmosphere of darkness or evil. The utilization of synth, clean vocals and acoustic guitars helps to raise the level of cheesiness. This, coupled with the awful songwriting, make it painfully clear that this belongs in the same category as most of the other wannabe Power Metal nonsense, with harsh vocals, that was being vomited forth from the Gothenburg scene. Everything regarding the construction of the songs goes against what black metal was, at the time. One glaring issue that should be noted is that the guitar riffs are not the central focus of the compositions. Instead, it seems as if much of the material is moved forward by the percussion and vocals, an error that was already common in death metal, by this period. As well, there is far too much double-bass, which only serves to detract more from the mediocre guitar melodies. Even the very best ideas presented here are boring and come across as very halfhearted. Even as far as melodic black metal goes, Naglfar did a poor job. Bands like Sacramentum and Vinterland took many of these same elements and achieved much more with them, as their efforts were far more consistent and possessed more creativity and artistic vision.
The production is just as bad as the actual songwriting, itself. However, due to the nature of the music, it is not surprising that they went for such an over-produced approach. Everything here is far too clean and sterile. There is no room for atmosphere, despite all of the theatrics, based on such an ultra-modern sound. This really sounds similar to Lunar Strain, from In Flames, to a great extent. The clarity of the drumming is a particularly annoying flaw, as this makes much more obvious the fact that the percussion is in a leading role, rather than a supportive one. The bass is too audible, which is a common error with albums recorded at Studio Abyss. As for the guitar tone, it is just as lifeless as the rest, not possessing even the slightest bit of a raw edge; something that Metal should always have. Albums like this are exactly why Peter Tägtgren should never have been allowed to operate his own studio.
It is safe to say that Vittra is the aural equivalent of massaging your genitals with a cheese grater. This is horrible stuff that never should have been recorded, let alone released to the public. That is not to say that Naglfar was particularly detrimental to the underground, as they were but one of many that jumped on the bandwagon and contributed to further polluting the scene, but they were absolutely worthless and their debut album is a good example of this. Waste neither your time nor your money on this.
Written for http://ritesoftheblackmoon.tripod.com
This is Naglfar's debut, a melodic black metal cd in the vein of Dissection with a more epic approach, yet a less brutal assault to the ear than the above mentioned, but even more enjoyable in the whole aspect of what melodic black metal stands
for(at least for this particular individual). It's a shame actually, that this perfect release got overlooked in the past and how good it was for it in the time being.
The guitar's are excellent at bringing catchy melodies and epic solo's and the short acoustic bits fit very nice here. The drumming is great though you can barely hear it at moments, yet it fits perfectly in this riff-oriented album. The bass is a bit difficult to hear at times because is so well mixed with the guitars, yet is good for what it is. The keys give it the curious, yet sweet touch to the songs(specially the intro to As The Twilight Gives Birth To The Night). My favorite part has to be the vocals of Jens Ryden(who is no longer in the band). They fit and sound amazing, fooling your ears into believing the guitars and every instrument behind the music are there to just to complement them.
The lyrics are intriguing, deep and will keep you wondering how can someone write something so powerful and meaningful in a non-explicit way to catch the listener's attention. The whole music itself is beautiful, I could listen to Vittra all day without having to skip any track from it(which I almost feel bad about it because I didn't really enjoy their latest efforts as much as I did with this one).
In conclusion, if you're looking for a melodic black metal masterpiece and an album to add to that flawless list of your favorites then look no further, because Naglfar have done it in one little underrated gem that goes by the name of Vittra.
Few bands these days can have a small compound of Black Metal poetry, and even fewer where symphonic melodies are a key to the backdrop of each song, without being called sellouts of this overall “underground” subgenre. Naglfar may now be signed to the largest and most well-known metal-providing record label in history, Century Media, but in no way do they not deserve the attention of an overall defunct Black Metal audience. Adding to this, not one soul would have the right to call this band generic; up until I heard this release fully, I assumed they were.
The album starts off a delicate intro to “As the Twilight Gave Birth to the Night”, which soon accompanies complex drumming patterns, and at 3:25, an acoustic riff lasting approximately ten seconds makes you close your eyes and envision a majestic landscape right before your eyes. Not far from then, Naglfar break new ground with symphonic leads inspired by amazing lead guitar work and low-key bass lines. The dark surroundings visualized throughout this song only get better when the second track, “Enslaved the Astral Fortress”, and the third track “Through the Midnight Spheres” are unleashed upon the careful listener. The riffing in these songs formulates the mixture of the menace and power of Enslaved with the melody of Kalmah. The atmosphere much resembles a Viking Metal band, mirroring the clear drum sound and the deep, hollow bass.
Vittra takes a slight turn towards keyboard-driven tunes once “The Eclipse of Infernal Storms” starts. Tracks five and six, titled “Emerging from Her Weepings” and “Failing Wings”, are appropriately titled to lyrically break through an attentive listener. The lyrics, especially the lines of “The Eclipse of Infernal Storms” carefully open the listener’s eyes to a farther land, reading “The great beyond lies open in front of me”. “Emerging From Her Weepings”, the fifth track as well as the longest on the whole album, also provides carefully selected Death Metal grunts, courtesy of Peter Tagtgren. Similarly to how the fourth track offers plenty of synth, “Failing Wings” offers lots of medieval melody accompanied by relentlessly up-beat drumming.
The partially-instrumental song “Vittra” on this song is easily admired by both the talent and diversity of Naglfar. Sure the song is only about three minutes in length, but all it builds up is complex steps and paths. It begins with an odd clean electric guitar followed by tom fills and a high-pitched scream. This evolves to double-kick drumming and one of the most memorable guitar riffs in the history of Black Metal. Clean vocals overpower this song, but the lines are few, and not long after, beautiful key melodies arise abolishing the song. Whichever way you look at the last two tracks, “Sunless Dawn” and “Exalted Above Thrones”, they are a perfect ending to an atmospheric Naglfar album. The riffs are kept to a minimal progression, and the drums resemble ones of simpler Black Metal patterns. At times sounding like Limbonic Art and others Satyricon, the band not only gives away imagery of an eternal forest which stands above all humanity, but also metaphors of the imaginary line between life and death. After all, the album ends in its utmost extreme with the words, “I left my shell and this mortal world to receive life everlasting…”
Naglfar may have conquered new heights with this masterpiece that borders Melodic Black Metal, but is still on the throne. The only downsides I would see with this release are Jen Ryden’s lack of diversified vocals and at times, the continuous use of the double-kick. Many bands prefer shorter songs, but others prefer longer. I personally think Naglfar could possibly go with one or the other, as most of their songs either end too fast or seem to take forever. Nonetheless, this album gets an 8/10 from me most definitely.
Some say this album is a classic, though I haven't heard of it for over a year of almost maniacal listening to black metal. It is said that Swedish BM is just playing as fast as you can and screaming pathetic quasi-blasphemous quasi-satanic lyrics. Sadly, it is almost right opinion. Almost, because there are still few bands there like Naglfar...
Naglfar's debut should remain known as a chest full of melodies and beauty. I had not heard something like this before... Melodic black metal is rather rare, and this album is the main and probably the best point of taht genre. And what can we find in "Vittra"?
We can find melodies, but rather not easy to remember. We can find a guitar solo, we can find death metal riffs, we can find here almost everything, but in small amounts. We can find great growls, ranging from low, death metal growls, through great BM growls, screams like in marduk's "dark endless", to dani filth's high growls. Sometimes bassist Kristoffer Olivius adds his backing vocals, sometimes Jens vocals are mixed and so on, making the album concentrated on two vocals.
"Vittra"'s sound is constructed on two melodic guitars, with keyboards in many places and acoustics. Drums are a bit too loud (or the guitars too silent), but it doesn't make listening to "Vittra" less pleasent.
The songs... After the first listening you will probably not remember any song, but that's the good side - with every listening you explore the magic world of "Vittra" once again from the beginning. Choosing the best one is a difficult task and I will leave it to the listener.
All in all, "Vittra" is too good to ommit it when you explore black metal world. However, it can be also a good point, that after years of listening to black metal you will find this treasure, noticed only by few people.