I dont know much about the Swedish band Naglfar, but I get the impression that they are well respected in black metal circles. But what I do know is that Jens Ryden, ex-vocalist of Naglfar and a veritable black metal jack-of-all-trades, knows how to make an impressive album all on his own.
Ryden did it all on Profundis Omega Rising: played all the instruments (although I cant quite tell if he used a drum machine or real drums), grunted the blasphemous lyrics, did the recording/mixing, and did all of the artwork and design, resulting in a black metal album with a perfect balance of primal, atmospheric murkiness and sinister melodies. From the very first track, ...Of Flesh and Blood, I was floored by not only the albums pure savagery, but also its epic qualities.
Ryden, first of all, establishes himself within the terms of legitimate, traditional black metal: the guitars are raw and abrasive, the drums are fast and low in the mix, and there is plenty of reverb on the vocals, giving them a truly menacing Deathspell Omega feel. But unlike many of his peers, he doesnt leave it at that out of fear for tarnishing his credentials. Ryden experiments with well-placed melody, although I am reluctant to slot this album into a generic melodic black metal category because it isnt what youd normally think of when you hear those words.
As an example, about two-and-a-half minutes into ...Of Flesh and Blood, some genuine (or what sounds like genuine) pipe organ bursts into the mix. But it doesnt sound cheesy and out-of-place the way it does when bands like Dimmu Borgir try to use those types of instruments. It really serves to amplify the creepy atmosphere of the song and then segues into a guitar line that utilizes some innovative melodies, which sound right at home in a black metal song.
Pipe organ parts, fake chanting (in this case not a bad thing at all), creepy sound effects, some piano/keyboards, and melodic-yet-biting guitar lines reappear frequently throughout the nine tracks of Omega Rising, but these elements are there to augment the songs and dont take over the show. Make no mistake, this album is as fucking grim as they come, but Ryden is a master of working melody and technical prowess into the blasphemous assault without compromising one iota of his kvlt status. The melodic/symphonic elements arent there to slow things down or make the music more accessible, which I think gives a respectful nod to In the Nightside Eclipse-era Emperor. Combine this with some slick artwork and packaging, and the result is one of the best black metal releases I have heard in recent months. Of course, I have come to expect nothing less from a bitchin' label like Profound Lore.
8.6 / 10
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