I've been following this German band for a few years now, and with all the true/untrue convictions within Black Metal these days, NAGELFAR has remained unaffected. Since 1995, they have been releasing quality Black Metal into the world; this includes two demos, two full-lengths, and now this.
The space age/futuristic keyboards are gone, and so is the old singer. Well-written, complex, and lengthy songs remain, as well as the atmospheric elements. The production is pretty good, if not better than their previous releases. The guitars are not as sharp and raw, but they sound heavier. The drums sound is more bombastic. The most unnoticeable change is the vocals. It's still that same Black Metal screech accompanied by some clean folk-sounding voices.
With "Virus West," the music has become more aggressive and not as complex as the two previous albums. No walks through the park with keyboard interludes while the guitars rest. It's straight to the brutal, blasting music. As a result of lessened keyboards, the songs are a little shorter. If you're not familiar with this band, an appropriate comparison would be to BURZUM. Except NAGELFAR is far superior in almost every aspect, including song writing and execution.
The lyrics are in German, and always will be. The day they write in English will be the day they have lost all integrity and should not carry the flag of quality Black Metal anymore. But that day will never come, and that's why they shall continue to release uncompromising Black Metal of the highest quality. "Virus West" is easily 2001's best Black Metal masterpiece!
PS. The vinyl release contains two bonus tracks "Beiter Des Kampfes" and an even rawer version of "Transylvanian Hunger" (Transilvanischer Hunger) sung in German! You can tell I'm a big fan of this band, eh?! (Online October 28, 2002)