Sweden’s Naglfar stand on the verge of their first full length record in five years with “Téras”. Taking their name from legends of old, Naglfar the name given to the ship wrought of dead men’s nails built to carry forces into the battle of Ragnarök. It’s all terribly grand and steeped in Norse mythology – can “Téras” back up these hints of darkness and depth? Yes……and no.
“Téras” is by no means a terrible record, Naglfar‘s brand of melodic black metal is certainly catchy as heck on occasion, swirling with power and spite. The pounding fury of “An Extension Of His Arm And Will” is enough to stir even the blackest of hearts, guest drummer Dirk Verbeuren (Soilwork) making his instrument suffer under his hammering will and vocalist Kristoffer “Wrath” Olivius issuing forth pure venom. Yet “Téras” seems to lack their previous works inherent misanthropic intent, especially that of debut “Vittra”. It’s difficult to pin down exactly what’s missing; the music is technically excellent, passages filled with wailing guitar lodge firmly in your mind, the sound is full…. but it’s not enough and it doesn’t last. Tracks blur into each other, with only a few stand outs. On a record of nine songs that’s not great odds.
Perhaps this is too harsh an outlook? Sorry Naglfar. There are some great moments to be had on “Téras”. The swagger and vibrancy of “Bring Out Your Dead” is not to be frowned upon, Vargher and Andreas Nilsson contributing true headbang inducing moments on guitar and the slow break is an interesting addition in a largely full frontal attack of sound. “Come Perdition” holds a sweet little mid-section, a quiet militaristic drumbeat leads the sounds of chiming bells and monastic vocal arrangements and there’s a slight touch of electronic sampling hidden in the depths. It’s completely at odds with the insane blastbeats that follow and a significant highlight of the record. Although hitting towards the end of the album makes it seems a little late in the day for fun and intriguing new approaches.
Once upon a time Naglfar held such promise, and it’s curious to hear this coming from a band that burst onto the scene with a roundly well received first record back in 1995. In a genre where innovation is constantly being sought and developed, perhaps Naglfar are just too traditional for the current scene? Scandinavian black metal is quite rightly held in high regard, yet those bands are no longer the pioneers of old. A shame for Naglfar, because “Téras” could have been something quite different if paths such as those on “Come Perdition” and the unabashed pace and bravado of “Pale Horse” were followed.