When the sound of an air-raid siren greets you at the beginning of an album, it’s probably a good idea to prepare to have your head blown clean of your shoulders. Well take a quick guess at the first sounds emitting from my speakers when pressing ‘play’ on NAGLFAR’s “Diabolical”. And you know what, NAGLFAR sound absolutely vicious and certainly wouldn’t mind racking up a few decapitations. I can’t quite put my finger on what it is about NAGLFAR’s earlier albums, but, at least to these ears, they eschew an aura that is simply darker and more sonically evil than just about any other band I’ve ever heard. Jens Rydén without a doubt had something to with this, as since he left the band simply sounds tamer (and Rydén’s PROFUNDI sounds pretty damn evil).
Just like with my review for NAGLFAR’s “Vittra”, this is a reissued version of “Diabolical”. Unfortunately there are no fun bonus tracks to be heard this time, which is a bit of a disappointment. The album has been remastered though, the sound is clear and menacing at the same time. There’s just enough of a reverb effect, especially in the vocals, to keep that creepy/eerie feeling growing throughout the album. Imagine being in some dark haunted dungeon, with who knows what chasing after you, maybe it’s nothing, but the feeling of dread isn’t about to leave your psyche. The sort-of constantly looking over your shoulder to make sure nothing's there feeling is what I get from NAGLFAR.
Anyway, enough rambling, the previous TMO review of “Diabolical” summed up the album really well, and I suggest checking that review out. But since you’re already here, I’ll just tell that NAGLFAR have upped the Death Metal levels on “Diabolical”, but are still Black Metal at heart. The grand melodies and acoustic interludes that made “Vittra” so special are cut back a bit here, making way for a more gnashing a gnawing record. The music still has many moments of melodic grandeur, just not as heavily as before. Of the Rydén-era NAGLFAR albums, “Diabolical” is probably the least essential. Regardless, it is still a worthy addition to any Black/Death Metal fan’s collection. Hell, “The Brimstone Gate” is worth the price of admission alone.
(Online September 17, 2007)