Nidhöggr - Ragnarök - (8.5/10)
Published on March 18, 2016
Formed in 2013 by Hveðrungr, the former Pagan Rites and Styggelse bassist, Nidhöggr is a Swedish black metal band that just dropped their debut full length album, Ragnarök, in March of 2016, with the digital version by Sweden’s Lake of Fire Productions and the CD and vinyl version courtesy of Mexican label Craneo Negro Records. Those who tuned in for the band’s 2015 demo, Turn to Ash, should really find no surprises, as Ragnarök delivers the same style of sharp, no nonsense black metal.
With a name like Nidhöggr, and an album called Ragnarök, it’s no wonder that the project is highly influenced by Scandinavian mythology, and, although the music is black metal, plain and simple, some pagan-tinged licks and movements subtlety creep their way in. The band’s demo was a razor sharp offering of cold, frosty black metal, highly influenced by the second wave, but the production seemed a bit thin and there wasn’t a whole lot in the way of variation across the three tracks. With Ragnarök, the band has really tapped into that classic sound while retaining a solid production that tends to focus on the fierce trem riffing and snarling, growled vocals.
Ragnarök retains that same sharp and vicious approach that made the debut so memorable, but instead of a nonstop assault, Nidhöggr offers varying mid-tempos segues to temper the harsh onslaught. Make no mistake, though, as this album still packs more than enough acerbic firepower to tear down the walls. A barrage of double bass rhythms, thundering bass and frenetic snarls are the order of the day, but the true star of the show is Hveðrungr’s riffing. It’s a style that highly reminiscent of the more melodically focused black metal bands from the second wave, as the arpeggio laden trem riffs fly past in a blustery whirlwind, yet the tone is sharp and cutting, remaining true to the aggressive nature of their presentation.
Though the band is a relatively new force to be reckoned with, the members have all spent time in some really prominent, veteran bands. That being said, Ragnarök doesn’t feel like a debut. It’s much more mature and fulfilling than most bands attempting this vicious, no holds barred style of black metal. Despite the aggression and fiery nature of the music, intricate melodies and varying rhythms are woven throughout, offering something more than just the average blasting to death. It’s one of the best black metal to drop so far this year and one that will be seeing a lot of playtime in my stereo.