Register Forgot login?

© 2002-2019
Encyclopaedia Metallum

Best viewed
without Internet Explorer,
in 1280 x 960 resolution
or higher.

Privacy Policy

I know about the freezing of the inner self - 97%

Wilytank, November 22nd, 2013

Despite winter being the common season whose imagery is brought up in black metal, autumn is a season that fits the genre as well. It's still got the bleak yet beautiful image that winter has, but autumn still has a sort of sorrowful warmness left in it as opposed to the absolute grim coldness of winter. There's definitely enough black metal bands out there that can bring this mood out; in fact, between Drudkh, Imperium Dekadenz, Gris, and Sombres Forêts, I say the idea has been thrown around enough times to no longer be considered ground breaking even if the bands don't necessarily make the songs about the season itself.

Bet let's go to an earlier example. Germany's Nagelfar released Hünengrab im Herbst in 1997; and despite being a piece of mainly fast-paced black metal, it's also remorseful sounding which goes well with the translated title "Dolmen (megalithic grave) in Autumn". It's a shame this album didn't get more attention at the time because I'm sure that Nagelfar would be held as big as the Norwegian bands if they were, and this album definitely deserves more attention than its getting for being so damn awesome.

I'll even go to this extreme: Hünengrab im Herbst is the best black metal album to come out of Germany; and despite it having the autumnal themes, it's worth listening to at all times of the year.

The band's two main guys and the two biggest stars on this album are the drummer Alexander von Meilenwald and the guitarist Zorn, and the clear production on this album allow both of these guys to properly show off their potential. Zorn lays down these melody laced riffs throughout the album while Alex's tight drum work forms a sturdy musical backbone for the rest of the instruments to build off of. The vocalist Jander does a phenomenal job as well both with his harsh shrieks and his clean baritone vocals.

There's no structure of verses and choruses in any of the songs. Though some sections of songs are played more than once, the band makes extensive use of bridges and breaks for transition. Since the songs on this album are rather long (two are 14+ minutes), this a good thing to have. All the songs are mainly fast-tempo but have well placed parts where the song suddenly slows. This method reaches it's peak on "Srontgorrth (Das dritte Kapitel)" with its fluid progression, the awesome bridge and breakdown that starts around the 4:25 mark, and the fast and furious finish.

The amount of epicness is consistent throughout the album. Between the melodic riffs, Jander's clean vox, and the controlled but excellent sounding use of the keyboards, Nagelfar have constructed a musical megalith of autumnal majesty and sorrow, from the weeping (and explosions?) in the intro that lead into "Seelenland"'s opening blast beats, to the final stretch of "Der Flug Des Raben" and everything in between. Even the interlude in the middle, the title track, is awesome and worth listening to. It features beautiful sounding piano with Jander's clean vocals which turn harsh on the second half and are joined by a muffled guitar and drums.

All black metal fans need to listen to Hünengrab im Herbst. It's easily one of the best of the genre. It's unfortunate that Zorn and Alex couldn't stick together longer to make more great albums. After this, there's another great album, then a much weaker one, then an unceremonious dissolution.

An Awe Inspiring Piece of Work - 95%

Daemonlord, July 12th, 2011

As Nagelfar were the band to spawn Alexander von Meilenwald, who was to later form The Ruins of Beverast, you should know this is going to be some high quality material. Do not mistake these Germans for the Swedish band who shared the Nagelfar name (albeit dropping the 'e', with both names coming from the mythical ship of the dead made entirely of human nails), as these guys have the edge of their Swedish counterparts in more ways than one. This was the band's debut, and in my opinion their best release (well, equal best alongside their 2nd effort actually, my opinion changes on a near weekly basis!).

At the end of the very short intro, the epic black metal crashes from your speakers like an icy tidal wave, taking down all and sundry in its way. Equally sprawling as it is intense, the riffs are packed with melancholic emotions, ravaging in hatred one moment before winding down into a reflection filled poignant moment, coupled with forlorn synthesizer and distraught vocal work by the incredible Jander (who was to leave the band after the turbulent recording sessions of their 2nd album 'Srontgorrth'). Where Nagelfar really shine is in the stakes of actually managing to have their own character, wiping the floor with the lions share of their contemporaries with ease thanks to their sensitive use of keyboards, fluid progressive elements as well as their ability to write amazing butt-tearing riffs that flow so naturally and readily to form songs that are out of this world. There's good usage of clean vocals in the more grandiose choruses, which adds that extra little touch to really top things off, and really help to open up the album. With all the talk of vocals and keyboards however, this is still very much a guitar based album. It has arrangements to die for that stretch over average to long song lengths, each as captivating as the last.

Pure yet noxious, amorphous yet crystalline, Nagelfar are one of my favorite black metal paradoxes – make them one of yours without a second thought.

Originally written for www.metalcrypt.com

Germanic Geniuses. - 90%

Perplexed_Sjel, July 13th, 2009

For so long, I have neglected Nagelfar thinking they were some sort of poor man’s Nargaroth, not that I even like Nargaroth that much - they’re truly a hit-or-miss band with a few mediocre records alongside one or two top notch classics . I truly have no idea how I came to this nonsensical conclusion, but it must have been an opinion formed in my early days of being a black metal fan, when I was as fussy as could be in terms of what I listened to and even what I liked. I once preferred the minimalist approach that was pioneered by the classic bands, on the classic records like ‘Transilvanian Hunger’, which I urgently need to listen to again, and probably re-review given my more mature stance on black metal classics these days. However, as I began to review more and, in time, become better at reviewing, I noticed that my tastes were altering significantly and beginning to lean towards an experimental faction of metal, which contradicted my first thoughts on this enigmatic genre that often requires a lot of use of a particular virtue named patience. I fear the conclusions I come to - in regards to Darkthrone’s ‘Transilvanian Hunger’, as well as the rest of their early career - will not be as positive as they once were and bands like Nagelfar are the reason for this discontentment.

It is, of course, my own idiotic fault for not practising what I preach and that is that assumption is the mother of all fuck-ups. We all know this, I know this, so why does my impetuous nature distract me from listening to bands merely because I assume something, that usually isn’t true, about them? I have no idea. I cannot begin to fathom my own idiocy, so I don’t expect anyone else to be able to do so. I should know by now that if a band is signed to Ván, then the chances are that they’re Germanic geniuses, intent on tearing black metal a new arsehole with their creative minds. The Ruins of Beverast are probably the biggest example of talent on the books at Ván, one of the more established record labels in black metal. Like other labels, such as Profound Lore, Ván have a knack for turning capable minds into capable musicians. The bands they have signed in the past, and the one’s presently on their books are often terrific, inspiring creations that deserve an awful lot of credit for their portrayal of black metal which sees many minimalist bands, and their records, gain notoriety for boosting the appeal of black metal.

Whilst I accept that bands like Darkthrone played a major role in giving the genre a global appeal, I also recognise the fact that for black metal to exist, it needs to go through an evolutionary period and towards the late 1990’s, with efforts like ‘Hünengrab im Herbst’, the scene duly received its rights to start the makeover process that has seen bands like Nagelfar sweep in with an experimental touch that has left fans like me screaming for more. Thankfully, before the band decided to part from the scene, they had left us with three notable full-length efforts to contend with and I’m fixed to start making my way through them, beginning with this majestically mesmerising piece, ‘Hünengrab im Herbst’ which translates to ‘Dolmen in Autumn’. This nature inspired title seems more apt to me now, as I’m not fluent in German by any means. Before bands like Drudkh came along and stole the show, Nagelfar were solemnly subjecting their smaller fan base to classic after classic of inspirational Pagan themed black metal that swept up a bunch of avant-gardé influenced and threw them together into a violent, but beautiful result.

As songs like the self-titled effort will indicate, the band are exceptional musicians. The song structures have specific methods of dealing with certain emotions and the band, as a whole, are expertly drawn together in exquisite beauty. I’m unsure whether the band uses the addition of keyboards, or whether the symphonies that make up a lot of the ground work are due to programming, or even regular old synths, but it doesn’t seem to matter regardless as the band are as epic as epic can be and this takes the aesthetic nature of instrumentation that can often lead to bands sounding hollow, or synthetic. The elements of this project, whether it be bass, or guitars meshes together like the colours of autumn, forming beautiful patterns in the sky and across the floor. The keyboards, or whatever they might be, even provide sparse, but superb piano passages which heighten the sense of emotion that is poured into this dynamic record.

The mastermind that is Alexander von Meilenwald provides his services on drums and, to no real surprise, he is an exceptional drummer with an abundance of talent that lies in creating not only double bass blasts to high standards, but also subtle grooves and a lot of creativity in the drums, shown on songs like ‘Srontgorrth (Das dritte Kapitel)’ with its rolling bass, tight cymbal and snare work, and fantastic capabilities when it comes to introducing songs. Alongside the bass, which is audible despite what the previous reviewer says, and the guitars, the drumming of Alexander ties in all other elements together, creating a field around the instrumentation, keeping the other instruments locked up within a huge atmospheric wall of noise. Considering his ability to be able to provide grooves and whatnot, his style can accommodate any style that the other elements of the instrumentation wish to enforce upon us. There are folk aspects of this record, as shown in the lyrical themes of nature and seasons, but also in the instrumentation which oozes a certain class. The nature inspired theme tends to come out more in the synths, which are consistently good and deliver on a range of levels that accommodate all sorts of black metal fans.

Whether you’re into aggressive and fast black metal, or majestic black metal, this record should suit all needs. The vocals, which consist of both rasps and clean chanted vocals (as shown on songs like (Srontgorrth (Das dritte Kapitel)’) are brilliant and, once again, also accommodate a huge variety of fans. Forget Summoning, this is epic black metal, with a majestic vibe at its utter best. Nagelfar aren’t suited to fans of repetitious black metal, I’m afraid. Each song tends to consist of a number of leads, not just one distorted riff, over and over again. The incredible and folk themed ‘Der Flug des Raben (Ein Jammerschrei in traurig' Nächten)’ is a terrific example of this because, despite its length, it never ceases to amaze me and not once does it bore me, or grate on my nerves. In fact, I’ve noticed a pattern with this record that suggests the songs get better as they progress towards the climatic end, just like on ‘Der Flug des Raben (Ein Jammerschrei in traurig' Nächten)’ which consists of a divine guitar lead towards the end, an upbeat piano passage and, as always, staggering percussion. An unbelievable ride, from beginning to end.

An atmospheric masterpiece - 100%

Lars_Ericksen, April 12th, 2009

This is an epic, majestic and a must-have album!

Its music is fascinating, everything here is build in a way to make the songs to follow a path of epic and majestic form to deliver a great black metal album.

This is not common black metal, the songs are not dirty as hell, nor are too much simplistic. Each song have at least 5 guitar riffs and some acoustic or lead interludes. Resuming, the guitar work is very effective and epic, the riffs follow a crescendo pattern that grows and grows making the music very addictive.

The highlight of the album is the drumming. Once we are talking about Alexander von Meilenwald work you should be aware that all of his work is at least very good and effective. But here he is not just good or gutsy, here he shows the best of black metal drumming, he changes the tempos, he goes on blast beats, and even input some groove on some interludes. This is just fantastic, because on the longer songs the music never gets boring or displicent.

The vocal department is another very strong part of this play. It also varies a lot, going from raspy screams to some clean chanting. Rarely some guttural parts are used, but, in a melodic and atmospheric album like this guttural voices are not the aim to go. The vocals keep uo the very good atmospheric sound developed by the other instruments.

The bass, another time in the black metal word, just cannot be heard. This is not a problem, it just do not any overweight to the music itself.

Just to finish, I dare to say that this is one of the best atmospheric black metal masterpieces of all time. If you can, grab it to your collection.