Nidhöggr - Turn to Ash - (8/10)
Published on November 15, 2015
Founded by ex-Styggelse, ex-Pagan Rites bassist Hveðrungr (who plays guitar here and seemingly goes by a different pseudonym for each project he’s in), Nidhöggr is a Swedish black metal band that formed in 2013. Initially solo project, Nox (the vocalist from Craft) and Vánagandr (the drummer from Karnivore) joined the ranks in 2014 and Hrungnir rounded out the lineup in 2015 as the band’s bassist. The band then recorded their debut demo, Turn to Ash, which is going to be released through Hveðrungr’s label, Lake of Fire Productions.
Turn to Ash focuses on cold, primal black metal. While the sound is reminiscent of any number of bands reaching for that classic second wave sound, Nidhöggr’s approach comes across authentic, most likely because the band is comprised of seasoned scene veterans. With only three tracks, running just shy of eleven minutes, the band manages to offer a potent punch within such a short time. There’s a constant flow of ideas swirling through the mix, from thundering double kicks and punchy power chord progressions to triumphant, blustery trem riffing and double bass runs. Perhaps the dynamic approach is what makes Turn to Ash so damn irresistible, as there are little flourishes and flashes of genius like the rollicking toms and swaggering strut during the chorus of “Ragnarök”.
The guitar tone is quite thick, although some of the riffs get buried behind a wall of pummeling percussion and thumping bass lines. The vocals focus on acrid growls, sounding furious and despondent at the same time. Despite the roughshod production, the solid songwriting shines through during moments of exultant black metal glory, like the razor sharp, catchier than hell riffing and rumbling percussion during the verse of “Malice Striker”. Nidhöggr seems to have started off on the right foot with their demo, so hopefully the upcoming full length (due in 2016) will continue with the same quality of songwriting.