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"