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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.

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