NAGLFAR
"Harvest"

(Century Media)

01. Into the Black
02. Breathe Through Me
03. The Mirrors of My Soul
04. Odium Generis Humani
05. The Darkest Road
06. Way of the Rope
07. Plutonium Reveries
08. Feeding Moloch
09. Harvest

RATING: 8/10

It's official, Sweden's NAGLFAR is incapable of doing wrong, "Harvest" being the newest instance proving the point. The band has honed its sound somewhat since 2003's excellent "Sheol" by going for a more immediately impacting style of black/death metal, still unarguably ferocious, but with underlying melodies that ensure a memorable experience. The move began with the departure of vocalist Jens Rydén prior to "Pariah", an album that saw founder/bassist Kristoffer Olivius stepping up to the plate and providing lead vocals. Now a quintet, Olivius flies solo as vocalist and "Harvest" picks up right where "Pariah" left off, offering the world another top notch release.

A model of consistency, NAGLFAR continually succeeds where other bands fail, that being the ability to rip and tear with the nastiest of the black metal elite and still write songs with fairly catchy melodies. Most notably, this is heard on "The Darkest Road", a monster track with a sinister chorus that you will return to again and again; such a simple chorus and yes so incredibly effective. "The Mirrors of my Soul" is a close second, one that features an especially cool vocal pattern on the chorus and a pitch-black aura. The latter tune also demonstrates the group's penchant for giving its composition a Swedish melodic death metal (the heavy end of it) punch in the gut, not unlike what one might hear from a similarly consistent band, NECROPHOBIC. As such, you'll hear on songs like "Odium Generis Humani" a frightening level of blast-beaten carnage, yet once again not without an attention to detail and dynamic song structuring. Well-placed keyboards and sinewy bass lines that you can actually hear (the one on "The Mirrors of my Soul" is particularly noticeable) add dynamics without distracting the listener from the damage being done. The piano and melodic lead on "Feeding Moloch" is one such example. The album ends with more of an epic and slower-tempo song, the seven-minute title track with its twin melodic leads, choral keyboard effects, stop-start cadence in parts, and a folk-ish melody line; it is unlike any of the other songs on the album.

It is hard to go wrong taking a chance on a NAGLAR album, whether you are an experienced listener or a rookie. "Harvest" is yet another album in a long line of meritorious releases that comes highly recommended from this reviewer.

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