Review: “Cerecloth” by Naglfar

After eight years in the wilderness, Swedish Black Metal nihilists Naglfar have returned with their seventh studio album “Cerecloth”. Recorded and mixed by guitarist Marcus Norman at Wolf’s Lair Studio and mastered by Dan Swanö (Entrails, Jungle Rot, Omnium Gatherum) at Unisound, the underlying musical and lyrical themes were succinctly and confidently described by guitarist Andreas Nilsson as “The usual death and destruction”. The album cover is adorned by grim, ghostly cover art from the renowned artist Kristian Wåhlin and with it there is no doubting what horrors await…

…ghostly sounds usher in a roar from vocalist Kristoffer W. Olivius who is shrouded in a whirlwind of kit battery and dark Black Metal atmosphere with some genre classical riffs steeped in tradition. The album title track “Cerecloth” is a full on raging affair, full of venom and tears of blood as Naglfar waste no time in demonstrating their powers. That ferocious energy continues into “Horns” as Olivius speaks of the demonic beast within while gargling blood with some gravelly unclean vocals. Stepping out from the Black Metal shadows for a solo that is left field and inspired before melting it back into a lead flourish is simply phenomenal. A bass heavy introduction to “Like Poison for the Soul” before a vicious pick slide allows the dark clouds to build before the thunderous kit work builds through some powerful fills and Olivius starts a raging rant of pure evil. It seems that Naglfar have picked up where they left off in 2012 and while there is no doubting their talent, some  fans may have wanted something fresher. That being said, the mix is powerful and well balanced, while the songs are hard hitting and this feels like a rallying call for a march to victory. The first taste of blood came in the form of “Vortex Of Negatively“, without a doubt one of the stand out cuts on the album. Opening with a galloping blast beat passage and some high calibre riffs, the dreams of death begin as the depiction of a waking nightmare unfolds. The road to hell is paved with a harsh spoken word and pure blood and thunder. The later half of the track slows down quite dramatically for a dirge of more melodic riffs to accompany that spoken word growl with mesmerising quality.

The middle of the album is reached with “Cry of the Serafim“, a slower march through the black cold forests, lit up by some bright lead flourishes as the dead rise to walk the Earth once more in intense and unrelenting style. Stepping up the gears for a high tempo affair in “The Dagger in Creation” which twists like a serpent with its eyes firmly fixed on its prey before slipping into a solo of virtuoso skill and power. A welcome reminder of the credentials of Naglfar, this one offers plenty of complexity with a depth and texture that puts lesser acts to shame. The unrelenting style continues into “A Sanguine Tide Unleashed” which has the finest kit work on the album with a real powerhouse performance at breakneck speed that will give headbangers whiplash injuries. Frantic riffs and brutal growls as the narrative tears in your ear drums is Black Metal perfection. The slow burn of the more atmospheric “Necronaut” provides the contrast of an evil seduction before leaping into pits of despair. Arising for one final gargantuan affair “Last Breath of Yggdrasil” is a dark and heavy cut which encapsulates the album sound as a whole. A beast of a track, it cuts between the frenetic riffs and the melodic leads in perfect harmony while the growls of Black Metal horror ferment. If “Cerecloth” is simply an announcement of return then what we’re in for next is going to be incredible as this sets a seriously high bar [8/10]

Track listing

  1. Cerecloth
  2. Horns
  3. Like Poison for the Soul
  4. Vortex of Negativity
  5. Cry of the Serafim
  6. The Dagger in Creation
  7. A Sanguine Tide Unleashed
  8. Necronaut
  9. Last Breath of Yggdrasil

Cerecloth” by Naglfar is out 8th May via Century Media with pre-orders available here

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