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Force of the Devil - 85%

GuntherTheUndying, July 18th, 2010

There are times when the lowest common denominator does the trick; this is one of those releases. Nifelheim are a black/thrash/speed metal group that are held in a pretty noble place for their obvious appreciation of old-school NWOBHM factions while ushering in Sweden's incoming grenade of black metal that soon exploded and indented shrapnel in groups like Dissection or Dark Funeral, for example. It should not be deduced that Nifelheim, despite their lack of thoughtful structuring, are near inferiority: this release is a barrage of shelling riffs, piercing leads, slicing vocals, and an audio aid to bang that head of yours. Why else would they be cited Sweden's blackened speed overlords? Not the facepaint, if you were wondering.

I view "Devil's Force" from a special era of prototypical black metal, which is probably the main reason why I find it so appealing. Are you familiar with the fun, ravenous approach bands like Venom or early Sodom visualized for everyone else? Yea, it's basically up that boulevard: menacing speed riffs, wild soloing, up-tempo structures, rapid know the drill. "Devil's Force," however, seems to be on this interesting bubble using brief NWOBHM moments here and there - think Slayer's "Show No Mercy - that are chunks of gold when the eruption dries out. Nifelheim nails the target whenever a NWOBHM melody appears, as it should be noted they pull it off perfectly, almost like they scored a job-shadow with Iron Maiden at some previous interval; totally awesome and nothing sort of finding the pleasure function of one's brain.

The production, too, is uncooked and raw, bringing the percussion to a festering bombardment of old-school devastation with each and every bash while everything flies in and out like total anarchy, and it suits the band perfectly; definitely one of the most fitting production jobs you'll ever hear. Overall, that's really all "Devil's Force" brings to the table, but there need not be more. For best picks, I'd say "Final Slaughter" is an absolute beast of a track, with a plethora of outstanding solos and nasty thrash riffs colliding vehemently when a riff that has Maiden-worship written all over it drops in and turns Hell into a not-so-bad place after all; it's without a doubt the record's best song.

Sure, every track is written in the same context with an obvious formula in mind, but does it matter? Hardly. Nifelheim goes for the throat in a relentless frenzy of old-school black metal that smolders and slaughters without mercy; sometimes you just have to give up the body. One could say Nifelheim are void of wrongdoings with this formula, and I'm inclined to totally agree. There really is nothing wrong with "Devil's Force" at all, even though its direction is far from a landscaping masterpiece of any sort, but that isn't the point. Prepare for a rampage if this sounds like something you'd like, for it shall kill, kill, and kill again.

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Raw necrostuffs - 44%

UltraBoris, February 19th, 2004

Average-ish raw necrostuffs, when all is said and done. Sort of an afterthought in the world of black-speed-thrash... old Destruction and Sodom, this kinda tries to be, but when all is said and done, isn't quite as cool. Also, old Sepultura, but sometimes their main influence seems to be just as noisy and sloppy as possible, and yet they DON'T pull it off with as much conviction as, say, Hellhammer or even that old Mayhem tape. When all is said and done, this sounds like a drunken Desaster rehearsal.

The other problem... other than the occasional really cool riff, the songs sound basically all the same. Lots of squealing guitars, and fast sections, with the occasional melodic counterpoint riff, or sometimes a really heavy thrash riff. For example, "Deathstrike from Hell" is total Darkness Descends worship, reminiscent of the headbanging intro to the title track. Then, The Final Slaughter is kinda cool but falls into a bit of a trap with the chorus being just "final! slaughter! final slaughter!" in a pretty uninspired manner.

That said, there's some cool moments if you listen carefully. The solo around 2.20 of Satanic Mass is subtle but well done - reminiscent of Metal Church's Beyond the Black - and stands out from the random noisy riffage behind it. Also, the rhythm guitar tone is decent, but the playing is very very sloppy. So how is this different from Hellhammer? Hellhammer is sloppy too, but discernable, even if the riff is totally off key. In this, the whole thing is kind of a mash.

Highlights? The album gets worse as it goes on - the only thing I can stand to listen to often and repeatedly is Final Slaughter. The rest is just what happens when you run out of ideas. Put all the great moments of the rest of the album into one song and you have TWO great songs. It's really not BAD, and if you like your stuff raw, you'll eventually get around to putting this in your collection, but it's just not GOOD either.