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Derivative? Sure. Good? You bet. - 90%

Valfars Ghost, October 8th, 2016

Nordjevel's debut album might not offer anything the black metal faithful haven't heard before but the music it delivers is strong enough that no one should care. When you're as good as these guys are at thriving artistically within a specific genre's confines, any lack of originality can be easily forgiven. Cold, memorable melodies, solid tremolo picking, powerful blast beats, hateful harsh vocals, and a clear production job that still manages to bring out the malice all merge together to form what promises to be one of the best black metal sonicscapes of 2016.

Nordjevel is of a highly melodic character. Through much of this album, the guitar plays some soaring melodies, sometimes in the form of buzzing tremolo lines and sometimes in the form of stately riffs. Rendered in a crystal clear tone, the guitar provides a semblance of order, grandeur, and sometimes menace to compliment the more blistering rhythm section and giving the songs an epic, adventurous flavor.

The one thing this album has that might actually take a first-time listener by surprise are these abrupt stops in the music that come up in 'The Shadows of Morbid Hunger' and 'The Funeral Smell'. In both instances, a passage comes to an unexpected end and a moment where all but the drums fall silent takes over before things pick back up with all the disciplined savagery from before. The stops seem like attempts at smuggling a trick from the jazz playbook into black metal (Ssh, don't tell anyone) and they're monstrously effective at injecting a little more drama and intrigue into these compositions.

There isn't much else to say about this release, seeing as how it doesn't include anything terribly novel or unexpected. Don't let that fool you, though, because Nordjevel pulls some solid ideas from the overtapped well of traditional black metal inspiration. Not especially creative, the band makes up for that deficiency with an undeniable skill in wringing some thrills out of a genre that's seen so many wannabes struggle to do the same, to no avail.