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"

1 comment:

  1. my inclination is to say "no way man, the first nifelheim album rules!" i truly love the songwriting...the riffs are pounding and the one-dimensional blasting is enough to flatten a small city. the whole point is that there ain't much going on aside from smash bash crush screech, and they do these things very well. it doesn't really bear comparison with pre-BFD bathory in that there aren't catchy rocknroll song structures.

    that said, the production does REALLY SUCK, so this is an album i have absorbed as an influence and yet never listen to. the sound is almost pain-inducing actually, and just isn't any fun to hear...requires a real effort to listen "past" it.