DARKNESS IS UPON US ONCE AGAIN!!! If there’s a band that wouldn’t be able to share the stage with a “cleansed” Dave Mustaine it would be Sweden’s NAGLFAR. Having released several grand albums and often regarded as the band dethroning DISSECTION, the band’s blackened beliefs are far from tamed, there’s great evil in this constellation even without the unholy presence of Jens Rydén who dropped out to shape a career in graphical designs.
A nightly listening session with “Sheol” still makes me shiver dreading the portals of hell will open right in front of me, a strong comeback album after too many years of devotion to side projects and various tours which slowed the writing productivity in the NAGLFAR camp. “Pariah” follows the band’s traditions, intensity and diversity in one solid package. Everything that should be on a NAGLFAR record is here: evil parts, ultra speedy rides, atmospheric breakdowns, the short solos, some haunting keyboards, sweepingly profane riffs and melodies, merciless drumming and blasphemous lyrics dripping from the lips of bass player Kristoffer Olivius who already did the backing growls until he took over the lead vocals. Although he doesn’t quite reach the menacing heights that Rydén mastered Olivius’ evil shrieking goes well with the new songs.
Despite its flawless instrumentality and solid compositional skills, I had difficulty in separating this one from “Sheol” as they sound very much alike songwise. There’s nothing new being done here musically except the unexpected introduction announcing your flesh is now theirs! “A Swarm Of Plagues”, “The Murder Manifesto” and “Revelations Carved In Flesh” while being respectable works of evil feels like filler material using the same cold guitars chords and predictable melodic touches that’s been done to death. “And The World Shall Be Your Grave” and “The Perpetual Horrors” are the true highlights here, the melodies and atmospheres reach epic qualities tracing back to the band’s earlier works, brilliant tracks.
The production doesn’t surpass the hellish infernalities of “Sheol”. It’s still brutal and frosty like any purified Black Metal album should be if you’re going to capture the essence of the genre, it’s as if the guys toned down the shock effects on the mixing knobs this time. Furthermore, the harsh drum sound is greatly missed by this reviewer, way more chaotic than the rest of the instruments, Mattias Grahn is a killer drummer who plays very fast, he should be higher and clearer in the mix than he ended up on “Pariah”.
I may still be a bit let down by this record but I’ve come to terms with it as well. “Pariah” is another solid album done by the Swedes, better than the endless streams of second hand “Vittra”’s and early EMPEROR albums coming from bands that simply don’t have the same ferociousness or brutal mastery as this band. (Online August 5, 2005)