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A hunt across lands blistered with frost - 100%

Daughter North, April 26th, 2014

Winter has pounded my body and head with his heavy, cold fists before I've even opened the case containing Nattsvagr's second full-length release Vinterblod. The moment the music begins, I feel as though I'm part of a hunt across lands blistered with frost. It has an almost frantic feeling to it. The majority of the tracks are assembled with layers of repetition, but I find it captivating rather than irritating. The repetition allows you to sink into the sound, like you would sink into a snow drift when you know that there is no way out of the woods.

Though the repetition is consistent, I am regularly surprised by changes in tempo which help to keep things interesting. The vocals are some of the best I've heard in recent years. The feeling behind them is, simply put, astounding. At moments, I feel as though I've woken up in the early 90's in a basement in Oslo... Overall the pace of this release is speedy. It doesn't let you get complacent or comfortable. The hunt is on and you need to keep up. At moments I feel as though I'm colliding with chaos. Each track has its own heavy, black heart, beating with a different kind of ferocity.

Vinterblood has left me feeling as though I've suffered a dirty bite from a rabid wolf, and now have hands deep in fleshy wounds. There's a wildness about this release, an animalistic spirit. Bury deep any optimism you have before listening to it, and put a marker down so you know where to find it. Vinterblod provides the perfect escape from the rot that is humanity, for a little while at least.

TRUE UNDERGROUND BLACK METAL - 95%

Nattestid777, March 22nd, 2013

Black Metal originally, in a more pure and true world, was meant to be a cult against the deceiver, false humanist morals, and all the sub-human popular culture. It was born as a “being” who lived in an isolated, distant, occult, cold, and individualistic reality surrounded by the honest nature and silence. By the late 1990s, most parts of black metal had commercialized or sold out to the mainstream media and big, greedy labels, becoming somewhat conventional and devoid of its essence and sentiments. All has become just appearance and thirst for mere money and nothing of what had left the black metal pioneers was saved, or minimally. Besides, the most mainstream and commercial Scandinavian black metal bands overshadow the more true-born underground bands day by day. Nevertheless, even if it doesn’t seem like it, we have to know that black metal is no longer the sole domain of the Nordics. Thankfully, there are bands out there plying their trade devoid of gimmicks, but their success is being stifled by the spectre of their authentic Norwegian ancestors. We only need to look at those overseas countries that do not belong to the European continent.

Nattsvargr comes from the United States and they were born in the far away autumn of 1999 under the name “Nocturnal Abyss”. This band stays far truer to black metal than any of the vast majority of the “(after) second wavers”, who along the way have forgotten what the genre in question was meant to be about. After different and hard changes of the line-up, 4 demos, 1 full-length called “Winds of Transilvania”, and a full-bodied split with some underground bands. In March 2010, Nattsvargr gave birth to a black pearl called “Vinterblod”, released on Nocturnal Abyss Records. This second album I guess represents a sort of “rebirth” in a more suitable “soul”, but far away from the human living world. “Vinterblod” incarnate the the true essence of the band caught from a deep inner, new, dark, and cold beginning in a different form. A new found identity from chaos. The name “Nattsvargr” is derived from the old Norse words “natt” (night) and “varg” (wolf) and is exactly its name which says to us what this band is, a lone wolf that wanders in the silent night through the hidden nature of wisdom. Its ravenous chants reveal the hunger of freezing obscurity and piercing knowledge.

The album is formed of 7 tracks. The first two are “Winter's Final Breath” and “Frozen Ritual” and one can perceive the more true-blue “second wave black metal” influences. Especially, one can find the significant mark impressed by the first black metal of Darkthrone’s period. This is not just a simple and monotonous tribute to the “black origins”, but something really original and it never seems to be a “facsimile” without genuine personality. All is soaked by an overall minimalism and by a repetitive (but never tiring) riffing which emerges from a cold and intimate ambiance.

“Under the Cold Moon” reminds me a lot of “Under a Funeral Moon” of early Darkthrone. Both songs share the same occult, nocturnal, and mystical atmosphere. These two tracks are two solitary moons that shine of the same pure light. In the third track lives the primitive and angry cult of past times; the sharp guitar riffs dominate the music and they tirelessly run fast to take your soul and sacrifice it to an evil force. The rough and grim vocals (Noctir) evoke an arcane black hate that catches your sensitivity. The whole album is full of power and feeling. All that you can do is gaze at the nocturnal eye. “Beyond The Withering Light” is a bringer of that “white glare” emanated by the previous track. The desolate voice of the past gathers our souls and flesh and leads us away from the vain, empty human existence.

In the fifth track we are all embraced by a melancholic and, at the same time, proud solitude. In the isolated, but austere “In The Eye of Solitude” we can notice how the main focus are the guitars, unlike the vague drums which represent a sort of “misty” background. Nevertheless, all the instruments fit so well together; every particular one is distinguishable and we can appreciate all the details.

By “The Dark Awakening” a lost forgotten spirit of old centuries takes life from ancient remains once fallen into an oblivion. This track which emerges from dark shadows is characterized (as is all the general album) by the absence of superfluous, exaggerated, and unnecessary elements. All is pure and essential, but true.

Also in “Vinterblod”, the last track, we can find a sort of “orthodoxy” towards the original black metal “devotion” of past times. This track gives the name to the full-length and it represents the “founding principle” of this work. Maybe “Vinterblod” is the “beginning”, but also the “end” of a new chapter that goes away through fleeting winter whispers.

This full-length is an “emanation” from the deep inner of Nattsvargr’s members and their music is a result of this complex process. Nattsvargr fights against the total apathy of the sheep men towards this world of decadence and against the most low aspects of life and society. Nattsvarg’s art follows a determinate path which reveals a sort of “circular” conceptual structure (the so-called “Ringkomposition”) - everything ends and comes back to the beginning and vice-versa, a black “ouroborus”.

Niche underground music with an implicit and hateful spirit that will make you live a deep sound experience, but only if you will be able to understand it.

COLD and GRIM!!!! - 95%

SatanicMoonblood, February 3rd, 2013

When I heard this CD first time I was floored! Not just because it's so good but the improvement by the band was 100% from the last CD. This is raw and cold black metal in the minimal Darkthrone and Bathory style and it kills everything they did before!

Nattsvargr doesn't fuck around this time! Each song is fast and gets right to the point. If you like your black metal cold, frozen and frostbitten as a blizzard, this is it. The riffs are all so icy and every song really fits together perfect! Drumming is background and not important, just like Fenriz says. These guys took it to heart. There are probably two to three riffs in each song, repetitive in a way but they go from one to the next before you can get tired of it. The music is really good to create a picture in your head of a cold and dark winter night. And the vocals!! Except maybe one spot, there is hardly any tortured feeling to be heard. No, Noctir is DEAD now!! His voice sounds like something that died and came back from the grave. Lifeless, unhuman and evil. He matches the riffs just right and the lyrics are a great match for the music. It's all desolate and deathly. With only seven songs, there is no chance for the CD to get boring. All the songs are really strong and I know some versions of the album come with a cover of Darkthrone's "The Dance of Eternal Shadows" at the end, which really holds the honor of the original. What more can I tell? this is pure black metal, no other elements added in. The riffs haunt your brain and there's no way to listen to "Winter's Final Breath", "Frozen Ritual", "In the Eye of Solitude" and more without feeling pulled into the winter darkness and feeling a little sadness too. But not in the wimpy suicidal black metal trend way. I think more how old CDs from Burzum, Darkthrone and even Dissection had some guitar riffs that were sad but still dark and would kill you.

"Vinterblod" is an excellent album of raw, cold black metal. This is reminding me of the old Darkthrone style but without trying to steal riffs or twist old themes like I heard so many bands do. The guitar riffs are really something you will remember after the CD has stopped and that is if you can stop replaying it over and over. I listened to this thirty times when I first got it and couldn't put it away to do my research. This is way better than "Winds of Transilvania" in every possible way. Get this or die!

No more Mr. Drum-computer??? - 63%

oneyoudontknow, August 14th, 2011

The latest release of the band would be Vinterblod and one of the differences with the earlier ones would be the replacement of Mr. Drum-computer with some of more flesh and blood; at least according to the additional notes at the Metal Archives (all reviews were written on MP3s [320 kbps]). So, there should be some different atmosphere and style in the music, as this instrument received a more independent role; at least theoretically.

Being their second full-length album some amount of professionalism should be expected and compared with the two demos, which received a review in this issue, Vinterblod offers a more consistent and better performance. Yet what was written on the Fimbulvetr one is also true on this one; in limits this is. The main focus are again the guitars and the term ‘main’ should really be emphasized. What has chained is the impact of the drums and it is nice to have this vague double-bass texture in the background; well, aside from some minimalist sound of the cymbals this instrument can hardly be recognized at times. It is underground black metal after all and this band seems to unwilling to move outside this distinct category.

What has changed, aside from a change in the line-up, is the actual sound and style of the band; at least from my narrow perspective on the topic. The music on this albums comes with less of this slow and depressive kind of black metal and with something more straightforward. Faster and with a rather linear structure in terms of the song-writing, this is what can be found on Vinterblod and takes the listener back to the earlier days of the black metal scene. Not much of a compromise was made and even though repetition and monotony play a role here, it is still possible to enjoy the compositions. Nothing new, nothing fresh, but something executed with quite some sense of this type of music; even though the production ruins it a bit. So, if you are looking for stuff whose style is anything but normal, why don’t you give this one a try.

Based on a review originally written for ‘A dead spot of light (Number 7)’:
http://www.archive.org/details/ADeadSpotOfLight...number7