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Progressive Black Metal: Quintessentials #1 - 100%

msk12, October 1st, 2013

So nowadays, I feel like I rarely see black metal this progressive coming from Norway. SomethingI love about this record so much is the fact that it retains the fire, aggression, and tenacity that the original second wave bands embodied with their music. HOWEVER, this record does us all a favor of creating a clean recording, with pristine sounding guitars, crisp vocals, and a wonderful, icy bed of cymbals.

Nidingr, with their third full length put forth a record with a clever play on words in the title. There is nothing cheeky about their music though. Right away, the record slams forward with a heaping helping of blast beats -- foreshadowing for the rest of the drumming on the album. While Oyvind's drum parts are not overbearing on the blast beat, he shows he is not to hold back his chops and fuck shit up at 250 bpm. Usually I see something like that as distasteful to rely on in a song, but blast beats that big swingy jazz ride sound so goddamn good that nothing could be more tasteful.

The album seems to begin as a very strong presence, but it mellows out, becomes more dark and twisted. Track 3, "O Thou Empty God'' has one of the most wicked grooves ever. Right in the beginning of the song they come out lying all the way down on the open string, and the vocals make a shift to the low register. The feeling it creates in the listener indescribable with words.

The following two tracks, "The Balances" and "Vim Patior," keep the momentum going with some extremely infectious guitar grooves. Although the chord shapes and progressions are nothing new in terms of black metal, Nidingr captures an essence of vitality and originality with the way they channel these foundational black metal chord progressions.

The vocals are a big part of my love affair with the record- I think they're absolutely perfect for the band's sound. Raspy, yelled, fucked up vocals are really the icing on the cake. This guy has versatility too - he shows his ability to perform clean vocals, high and low harsh vocals, and a great presence of voice. He really brings something new to the table with his performance. In "The Worm Is Crowned," it sounds like Garm of Ulver does a guest vocal spot (although he is not credited on the album.) If it is indeed Garm, excellent choice in guest musician. If not, it sounds great anyway!

This album is one of the most memorable black metal releases in recent memory for me. It's jagged glory really embodies everything that is RIGHT about the genre today. I have no qualms or criticisms for this record - only praise.