NAGLFAR - SHEOL
The Swedes eventually jumped onto the black metal wagon with Norway, but Swedish black metal is distinctly different from Norwegian. Usually more aggressive and with a polished production, Swedish black metal is likely more accessible to your average metal fan. Enter Naglfar, a Swedish band who sound strikingly similar to Dissection, a legendary Swedish black-death hybrid. Sheol is their third full-length release, and their first for current label, Century Media.
Five years after the fantastic Diabolical, Sheol is very much more of the same: great melody, lots of tempo changes, plenty of ferocity and touches of groove. Naglfar are black METAL, riff heavy and with classic rock song structures, using somewhat sparse traditional black metal elements to remain relevant to the genre. Ryden is a fantastic vocalist, he sounds plenty evil and pissed off which is a very effective combo. "I am Vengeance" starts the album with a definitive "we don't fuck around" attitude, and it never really lets up.
Naglfar are on the upper tier of the black metal Swedes, mainly due to their sense of melody and groove. "Black God Aftermath" is a good example of this. They have moments that call Norway's Old Man's Child to mind, a similarly riff-driven black beast. No keyboards really prominent here, Naglfar uses guitar overlays to produce that "wall of sound" so necessary in the genre.
If there is a weakness to this effort, it's that it sounds fairly identical to the previous album. This means Naglfar progressed very little in the 5 years they had to finish this album, but maybe that's okay. They really didn't have anything they needed to fix. Sheol is a slab of vicious black metal driven by catchy, well-written riffs. It's nothing strikingly original, but that doesn't always matter. It gets a 4 of 5.