If your wardrobe consists of nothing but worn-out HELLHAMMER t-shirts, you instinctively throw the devil horns whenever a photo opportunity arises (no matter the occasion), you say “Hail” to people instead of “Hi”, and spend hours lamenting the lost tradition of tape trading, then Sweden’s NIFELHEIM should feature prominently on your playlist. Theirs is a sound straight out of the 80s – an insanely old school, noisy and rabid form of Black/Thrash that should find an audience among the many devotees of ancient acts such as the abovementioned HELLHAMMER and others like BATHORY, SLAUGHTER, SODOM and early MAYHEM. Hell, the sheer “retro-ness” of their music can even make AURA NOIR and USURPER sound decidedly modern and polished...
“Devil’s Force” is the band’s second album and thanks to Regain Records it has recently been reissued, so there’s no excuse not to check these guys out. Just like their eponymous debut the sound on here is no-nonsense Blackened Thrash, with some of the slower sections bringing with them a more Trad Metal vibe. It’s not technical or ehm, ‘beautiful’ in any way, but its delivered with alarming alacrity and the riffs remain very catchy throughout. “Deathstrike From Hell” is a superb opener riddled with quick-fire solos an a thick Thrash-y sound that sits somewhere between “Endless Pain” KREATOR and early BULLDOZER. They also try their hand at slower, moodier techniques, and they totally pull it off on a track like “Desecration Of The Dead” where an initial flurry of blasts segue nicely into a mid-tempo stomp that gets progressive darker as the band pile on the icy licks and melodic leads. “Demonic Evil” is about as catchy as its title is trite (i.e. VERY), and those opening riffs are simply killer – excellent Blackened Thrash. Four tracks into the album and I’m already sold.
I could go on but suffice to say this album is a massively enjoyable throwback to the 80s extreme Metal aesthetic, with the harsh Black/Thrash and more atmospheric solos/leads never in opposition with one another. The sound is tighter than on their debut (the riffs sound somewhat ‘fuller’ and the vocals have a deeper, more “demonic” ring to them) while the solo count has been increased quite a bit – just revel in the MAIDEN worship of “Satanic Mass”. Awesome. It’s super catchy, energetic and seeing as how this release effortlessly captures the essence of my favourite styles (Black, Thrash, Traditional Metal) I have no other option than to award it a suitably high rating. Great album!!
(Online June 19, 2009)