Saturday, December 19, 2009

Best of the Decade in Metal

The list over at Dark Legions inspired me to do my own list.

Darkthrone- F.O.A.D.
King Diamond- The Puppet Master
Satanic Warmaster- Strength and Honor
Antaeus- Cut Your Flesh and Worship Satan
Ildjarn- Nocturnal Visions & Son of the Northstar
High on Fire- Blessed Black Wings
Immortal- Sons of Northern Darkness
Axis of Advance- Strike
Emperor- Prometheus
Arsis- A Celebration of Guilt
Nifelheim- Envoy of Lucifer
Summoning- Oath Bound
Graveland- Memory and Destiny
Inquisition- Invoking the Majestic Throne of Satan
Necrophagist- Onset of Putrefaction
Nasum- Human 2.0

Friday, December 11, 2009

Nifelheim- Nifelheim

Nifelheim's first album is a tribute to the 80s black metal of Bathory, Celtic Frost, Venom, Sodom, etc. In 1994, when death metal was on its last legs, and Norwegian-style black metal was still confined to Norway, this was an interesting and daring aesthetic choice. But, in 2009, does it hold any interest for us, as music? What can't be of *any* interest is how close they really get to their influences. Nonetheless, it is worth repeating here one of my maxims of criticism: it is completely insufficient to copy a band's sound from its salient elements on record; the only way to really understand a band is to listen to *their* influences. The exception to this would be the brilliance of Disclose, whose approach to Discharge was through a careful study of the Discharge influence in Sweden (Shitlickers, etc.) and subsequently, through Discharge spinoff Broken Bones. In any case, Nifelheim, like the other bands who have attempted this sound (Abigail, Countess, Megiddo), basically level the early Bathory sound into one-dimensional blasting. (Compare, on the other hand, the brilliance of Burzum's incorporation of the same sound, on the first Burzum album). It must be said that Nifelheim bring a good dose of "rock" spirit to this essentially humorless and bleak music, but the production (horrible) is working against them here, and they are sorely missing the slow bangers that Bathory wisely used to pace albums. Neither are the several guitar solos here of any interest, which is a real liability in metal. Of course, later Nifelheim would go on to great things indeed, but here they are limited to an influence which is neither developed nor properly grasped.

Score: 2.5/5 (** 1/2)

Best songs: "Sodomizer," "Possessed by Evil"