“Awaiting The Battle Ravens,” in which NAZGUL forge their way further into the forest. Whilst “When The Wolves Return To The Forest” was a distinctly earthy affair, this album whiffs of damp moss and rotting leaves. Everything here is a tad more blurry than before, as if the band have hacked off the sharper edges. This dulls the appeal and yet broadens it as well.
The first change to note is that the speed is not so obvious, it’s still there, but the drums are less prominent than on the first album, though they aren’t exactly gathering dust either. The second change is that “….Ravens” is folkier than “…Wolves” though no less extreme. There is a much warmer tone to the guitars, NAZGUL eschewing the previous touch of frost, this is a much more temperate collection of songs.
The compositions on this album benefit from a better structure and improved dynamic range and though less direct there is more for the listener to absorb. “Born In Unbaptised Forest” scorches along like a forest blaze, with the traditional sounding end acting as a firebreak into the next track. This song typifies the fuzziness that follows, akin to watching a horse running though woodland, you never get a full view because of the trees that obscure its passage. This indirectness is a good thing, it means you become more involved and over repeated listens appreciate what is offered here more. Be mindful, however, that the production is as rough as a badgers arse.
“Celtiberian Werewolf Warriors” provides more of this amorphous rush, with the snarled vocals continuing the general themes of war and pagan heritage. The rounded bass is insistent in its support of the other instruments, providing some foundation for this buzzing beast to gallop upon. The last two tracks are sourced from the “Return Of Pagan Beliefs” demo and hewn from the same tree trunk, the pace and heat mirroring what has gone before. Two instrumentals feature, the opening track harks back to times long past, whilst “Wrath Of Turanis” provides some calm between the pagan passion fired at the listener.
NAZGUL have created an album that lacks the immediacy of their first album but that has more substance, that will occasionally cause a slight furrowing of the brow if you are aware of its predecessor, but like poison ivy, it will grow on you. (Online April 10, 2005)