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Mustan Aurignon Riitti - 80%

jimstayahead1, May 29th, 2012

Mustan... starts with a short opener called Blinding Fog, which is used to set the scene for the incoming black metal onslaught. The guitar plays a melody that could be used to shepherd ancient troops to battle, all backed up by a tambourine that keeps the beat, ending with the sound of rain, thunder and lightning. The second song is the first long player on the album, at just over 7 minutes. Path Of The White Wolves is where Nattfog start to flex their muscles. The driving guitar riffs are backed up by a strangely up-beat rhythm thanks to vocalist/drummer Vulcan Sacrilege. He also provides those raspy black metal vocals that add that evil bite to Nattfog's music. It's a mid paced song, with Nattfog not trying to out run anyone in the speed stakes.

The initial sound on this record is bigger than you'd expect from a duo, especially from the guitar. The production is clear and more modern, losing some of the old-school leanings favoured by many of their peers. That being said, it does still feel dirty and evil, which is testament to it's creators. Third song Reaching To The Stars is played out at much the same pace, and sees Nattfog throwing some different dynamic elements into the song. Subtle pace changes and melodic instrumental passages bring the song to life. There is still that hypnotic sense in there as well though, as if the duo are trying to lure the listener into a daze, in which to devour their souls.

Mustan... lasts just over 41 minutes, and considering it's made up of seven tracks, that's pretty epic. With lyrical themes of their Nordic homeland and the journey into the afterlife, from the earth to the stars shows that Nattfog want to take the listener on a journey through their mythological past and with second half of the album being in Finnish, they are firmly holding onto their heritage and roots.

They are able to weave some subtle, folky melodies into their music, like in fourth song Mieleni Mustissa Merissä. In parts this reminds me of the way Dark Tranquillity incorporate melody into their music, and are able to create a bigger, more engaging sound as a result. Nattfog aren't pandering to the genre conventions either. This record is a very listenable experience, due to the quality of their music and vision, and I know the more cvlt amongst you will baulk at that statement, but it's meant to be a compliment in terms of their creativity and integrity as an individual entity, and not just being content as copyists.

As the record progresses into it's final two battle hymns, it's hard not to faults with it. Nattfog do bring that occult, evil influence to the fore during the penultimate song, to remind you of what they are. A surprise awaits you at the start of album closer Kaksitoista Askelta Luvattuun Valtakuntaan. The sound of traditional folk instruments ring out and add a sense of warmth to the record. Sometimes, this type of influence can sound contrived and gimmick, but not here, as it's again a reminder of Nattfog's Nordic roots. The traditional horn makes up the main element of this final instrumental track and leaves subtly leads the listener away from the battle field they have just negotiated.

I wasn't sure what to expect from Nattfog, but having just witnessed a very measured and mature debut album, I'm converted. It's a debut record filled with ambiance and atmosphere. It's played with thought and skill and it will no doubt bring Nattfog, squinting, out of the underground.

Mustan Auringon Riitti - 73%

SmithMetal84, March 12th, 2012

Alongside their fellow Finnish compatriots in Förgjord, Nattfog are another band that are producing cold black metal tunes from Finland, and after five years of releasing only a demo and a split, they’ve finally released their debut full-length, dubbed “Mustan Auringon Riitti” and released through Hammer of Hate. A two member band, they do differ from Förgjord (who have also just released a black metal album) mainly in that they have less variety and far more depressing songs, their cold tones and atmosphere just screaming of agony and pain. While the former introduce far more variety in their songs, Nattfog rely on and make use of heavy repetition and far more bleak, unforgiving and somber riffs, a less enclosed atmosphere and more frost-bitten tones.

As previously stated, Nattfog tend to lean on the more depressing side of black metal, producing such sorrow and grief that you can just feel the members’ pain through the instruments. The atmosphere is the main point in their music, and when all of the instruments mesh together to formulate the end result, this is when their music is at its peak, seen greatly in the agonizing “Reaching To The Stars.” Hell, seen on practically every song. Seldom, if ever, do they tremolo-pick abrasive and punishing riffs; rather, they play mostly slow passages that correlate with the harrowing vocals while suffering through the utterly poignant guitar tones. Akin to bands like Chasma (which I recently reviewed as well) and Burzum, they use repetition for effect and granted, this can get somewhat tiresome after a little while, but they do achieve in sneaking miserable riffs into the listener’s brain and leaving them there, lingering quietly like ghosts in a graveyard. There’s some melodies used occasionally, only used to produce a further onset and continuation of their ever-pervasive depressing and saddening style.

The occasional use of synthesizers is thrown in as well--of which I’m honestly not particularly fond of--which can be heard in “Kosmisen Usvan Ympäröimänä,” and that can be compared to the more ambient segments of “Filosofem” and other such albums. The vocals are augmented in quality by the--dare I say--relatively clean production to make them seem even more hopeless and raspy, reminiscent of the vocals in Watain yet more vile and gloomy. The drums lack greatly in variation, playing simple beats that follow along right at the guitars’ heals, hardly ever trying to stand out in any way. They’re just… there, but they do their job. The overall production is less harsh and raw than that of Förgjord’s, slightly cleaner and more polished, and it serves to get the band’s sad and melancholic message across.

Nattfog’s redundant use of repetition is the main focus in their music, yet at times it’s also their worst trait. Unfortunately some of the songs do get somewhat old after a while and the listener may find himself getting itchy at times, but if one gets passed this, they’ll certainly get hypnotized by the heartbreaking riffs that Nattfog put forth. A decent enough album, and worth the listen; highly recommended for those in need of a good ol’ punch in the stomach with a little musically emotional scarring, and not for anyone else. Also, skip the last track if you’re not into fully ambient songs, which, coincidentally, I’m not.

-SmithMetal84
http://ravenousreviewswebzine.blogspot.com/

Of night and the fogging - 70%

autothrall, February 24th, 2012

Another Hammer of Hate discovery, Nattfog was born from the rhythm section of the Finnish Norns, whose In Fog They Appear demo (2005) I had previously reviewed for its CD release through the young but promising Voldsom imprint in 2009. Though utterly straightforward and often repetitive, that was still a good showing with a strong sense of immersion, a characteristic which has clearly been passed along to Nattfog. Simplistic guitar passages drudge along in dense, escalating structures of tension through which the carnal rasps continuously stretch and flow, and there's a corpulent sense of sadness and fell glory throughout the duration of the debut which creates a greater whole than its riffs, vocals or musicianship alone might cultivate.

I'm definitely getting a Burzum vibe here, if only for the primal majesty of the chord choices, or the plight of the plucky, ringing synthesizers in instrumental "Kosmisen Usvan Ympäröimänä". But perhaps more prevalent is a Summoning influence. Especially in the intro ("Blinding Fog") or the extensive, martial sorrows of the closer "Kaksitoista Askelta Luvattuun Valtakuntaan". The drum beats to these are fashioned with a tribal, warlike consistency that gives off that same medieval/Middle Earth impression, especially when joined by the droning synthesized horns in the latter. However, the band definitely differs when it comes to the metallic content, or more accurately the thick tone of the chords. The resonant, resilient rasp of the vocals has more in common with Horna's mid period than the suicidal shrieking of Vikernes. When it all gels together with the raw, crashy drumming, streaming Bathory melodies and thick bass lines in the surge that is "Reaching to the Stars", you begin to witness Nattfog at its best...

I would point out, though, that this is far more of an atmospheric experience than one in which the listener will want to pick through the individual details. No individual element of this album would be worth much on its own, and the guitar progressions are unanimously predictable and familiar to those who have been following the genre for a decade or so...not one will ring out in your head repeatedly to the point that you'll feel some subconscious desire to return to it. That's as tangible a weakness here as it would be just about anywhere in the metal spectrum, but Mustan auringon riiti scrapes by on its sum, grisly valor played out at slow to middle pacing. A 43 minute torrent of sorrow and antipathy which accumulates on the listener's conscience like cold rain on a poncho and hat, burying him or her in a formidable tide of antiquated tears.

-autothrall
http://www.fromthedustreturned.com