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Underwhelming Black Metal Named After Some Town - 62%

DeafSparrow, June 2nd, 2017
Written based on this version: 2016, CD, Folter Records (Digipak)

This review was originally published on the Deaf Sparrow Facebook page on 29 August 2016. Written by Stanley Stepanic.

I really enjoyed this cover by Misanthropic-Art, who's done some great work for Asphyx, but unfortunately I didn't share the same opinion of the music for this particular album. I thought I would like it more than I didn't (figure out that creative wording, I can't). I gave it several listens, and I'm perhaps more confounded going out than I was going in at the sheer averageness herein. I can rhyme too, see?

Narvik come from Germany, though they've named themselves after a town in Norway where once lived the guitarist of the Norwegian alt-rock band Madrugada, which for some reason these Germans have chosen as their inspiration. Yes, you read that right. I would have rather they admitted they were fans of Mudhoney, to be clear. I'm not even sure why such an obscure pick would have been the primary inspiration behind what is a generally traditional approach to black metal, but hey, I guess everyone's trying a new angle these days. Why not pick a random town for a band name? Something like that.

But forget the name, the unfortunate thing is "Ascension to Apotheosis" offers very little beyond its art. Narvik take far too much time developing any sense of sound, relying heavily on accessible, yet simple BM riffing, sometimes degraded by odd lo-fi static riffs in the background. The drums pound like a bunch of horses out to graze, and the vocals, well, there's a problem. I was a bit confused when I found one "critic" praise them as the glory of this album, when I myself was entirely underwhelmed at their mediocre delivery. We're talking more of a demo-level sound test than a full-length released after roughly a decade. Redeemer (really?) has very little muscle to back up what he's saying, and possibly no spine. He attempts to muster up the blackest bile from his innards, but it comes out as geriatric spittle without the disease. As such, sadly, this album is entirely average on so many levels it comes and goes and you're pretty sure it was all the same song yet you forgot every second of it. And I still can't get over that name, what BM act from Germany names itself off of a city or town? I don't care if it's Norway, the so-called heart of BM, I mean it makes as much sense as calling yourselves Pittsburgh, though it is a steel town and that's pretty metal. Well how about Harrisburg, makes as much sense as that. At least pick a city with some dark history behind it, like the obvious Salem, I don't know. At any rate most of you will likely find "Ascension to Apotheosis" listenable, but almost a contradiction. Thanks to Folter Records for the promo.

Building to a grander black metal stance - 87%

slayrrr666, November 29th, 2016
Written based on this version: 2016, CD, Folter Records (Digipak)

Continuing to offer a fine account of their style, German black metallers Narvik have taken the clear and refined focus of their previous releases and are embracing their darkened melodies and disharmonic vision into a tighter and clearer whole than ever before. Joined by bassist Nox and rhythm guitarist Agreas for their first recorded output with the group, their second full-length effort was released May 27, 2016 on Folter Records.

Embracing their core sound to the fullest, this here is quite the impressive variation on their particular attack with this one focusing on their traditional sound. This one mostly goes for that familiar second-wave inspiration in jangly tremolo riffing and plenty of cold, freezing riffing that makes for a rather impressive attack here with the band going for that cold Scandinavian-inspired feel while generating the kind of melodic tangents in the slower tempos to generate the kind of steady attack throughout here which is built on that swirling series of riffing patterns. When this one goes for a more mid-tempo assault, this really results in plenty of charging and wholly frantic series of rhythms accompanied by the fine introduction of melodic accents which becomes all the more apparent against the chaotic blasts featured elsewhere throughout here. It readily follows the school of attack throughout this from numerous other second-wave-worshiping acts to such a degree that it becomes a strength in how powerful and professional it is in this variation while also displaying the one lone downfall in how clearly it demonstrates this fact to such a wholly unyielding degree of worship as to make its own output nearly unimportant by comparison. It’s so close in fact that it really undoes itself somewhat even if that’s only slightly compared to the utter savageness of the attack here which does manage to overcome a lot of the familiarity found here.

Though this here is a mostly enjoyable and engaging slice of traditionally-flavored black metal, the fact that it’s so close in design and spirit to those acts limits it enough for this to really be knocked down only enough to have a real appeal to fans of the bands’ previous works or the most devout and hardcore old-school fanatic.