There are bands one can always rely on when expectations need to be met. Melodic black metal Swedes Naglfar are one such band. Bassist-turned-vocalist Kristoffer W. Olivius and guitar player Andreas Nilsson form the core of the band since 1993, with second guitarist Marcus E. Norman part of the line-up for the last 20 years. It should also be mentioned that the new album Cerecloth (out today) has been recorded with the help of two other well-known and respected musicians – Alex Friberg (Firespawn, ex-Necrophobic) on bass and Efraim Juntunen (Persuader) on drums.
We had to wait for 8 years for the successor of Téras but the patience of the fans is now rewarded with another batch of extremely well-crafted black metal hymns. Just two minutes into the opening title track and smiles are all over – here are the buzzsaw lead guitar melodies we love Naglfar for. The best reference here are Dark Funeral, especially with their latest album, but there has always been more subtlety and variety in the music of Naglfar. They have always been masters of switching tempos but what they are best at are the fantastic melodies created to stick in your mind and make you play a song over and over again. Just two examples: the riff at 1:10 in Vortex Of Negativity and the one at 3:10 in Cry Of The Serafim. This is class!
Most of the songs in Cerecloth are fast in tempo and carried by blastbeats, with two notable exceptions – the aforementioned Cry Of The Serafim which is easily one of the heaviest songs in the band’s history, climaxing once again in hyper speed, and the truly epic closer Last Breath Of Yggdrasil. There is only one element that can be pointed out as a slight disappointment and it is the production. Looking at the press info it seems that either Marcus Norman (recording and mixing) or the legendary Dan Swanö (mastering) should be held responsible for the muddy, suffocated production, but whoever it is, it’s a shame, because the material is fantastic and it deserved a much more powerful sound.
Putting that aside, Cerecloth is easily the best black metal album I have heard since Netherbird’s latest masterpiece, which was also reviewed here. I can only ask the guys to not make us wait another 8 years for the next one.