Coming off the heels of the critically acclaimed “Sheol” (released in 2003), NAGFLAR have had high expectations to live up to for the upcoming album. Then again, the band is used to it, as they’ve had stellar releases ever since their debut “Vittra”. However, a blow came as a prominent member of the group, vocalist Jens Ryden, left the group in order to continue his studies. There was reason for some concern, because his vocals were an important aspect of NAGLFAR. His delivery wasn’t too unique, but he delivered it with such power and malice that it gave the music an extra layer of brutality. Replacing a vocalist is generally quite a daunting task (Let’s ask CRYPTOPSY about this, shall we? Or IRON MAIDEN). Oftentimes, the new guy/gal will turn off some fans, saying the new person just doesn’t have the same flair/ability/whatever as the older vocalist.
First things first: The vocals on the new NAGLFAR haven’t lost any of the edge and quality that they’ve always had. The bassist-turned-vocalist Kristoffer Olivius is a dead ringer for Jens, and in that aspect, the vocals are still top notch Black Metal growls.
The music hasn’t changed much from their previous offering “Sheol”. Melodic Black Metal, with elements of Thrash and Death alongside with their own sense of tremolo picked melodic riffing is what is contained on “Pariah”. The band knows how to employ unnerving fury alongside infectious catchiness.
NAGLFAR are quite relentless, mainly because a prevailing feeling of hatred and malice just pours out of this album, but there is another aspect to them that’s probably never that mentioned, probably because it goes unnoticed. Once you put on a NAGLFAR album, it just burrows itself into your skull, refusing to let go and it makes you want more. Can’t say too many albums are doing that nowadays, especially of the Black/Death variety. One reason is the aforementioned catchiness of the music. It’s simply catchy, no other way to say it. The other main reason is because the entire album is quite diverse. The speed changes constantly, just to give the music some breathing room and to have some variety. The drumming also strays away from the typical Black Metal blast beats (as in: “Blastblastblastblastblast…”). The drummer has the habit of playing within the riffs, accentuating certain chords and notes, while at other times, providing the backbone of a sinister riff by adding to the general feel. So with catchy guitars and a diverse drummer, the band really has created a great piece of work.
Recommended. This isn’t an “Album Of The Year” (probably in my top 20, though), but a great piece of work. (Online November 12, 2005)