Have you ever been scared so shitless that you wish you had just up and died on the spot Well, Naglfar possess that exact shock factor that could easily put your heart into a fitting frenzy on musical impact. The lyrics are disgustingly brutal and grotesque, with just enough scare tactics throughout to appease any horror film fan. If the album title, "Sheol" (Hebrew for “Hell”), isn’t perfectly suited for this Swedish melodic black metal outfit, then slap my ass and call me Sally because never has an album title been more fitting. It’s frightening to listen to what these Swedish masters have done with this, their third studio album after an EP’s worth of material ("Ex Inefris"), released last year. This is one of the few bands that have not only gotten better, but haven’t changed a damn thing as far as style goes since the beginnings of the band. They haven’t fallen into the ever popular coven of incorporating keyboards, female vocals, or clean singing, which is a feat in itself. If it weren’t for Old Man Child’s "In Defiance of Existence," Naglfar’s "Sheol" would be the best black metal album of 2003. But, now they will undoubtedly end up 1 and 2. It’s easy to forecast this since these latest releases by the respective artists are the most crowning achievements in black metal for as long as I can remember. I haven’t been this floored by the black metal genre ever for that matter. It seems these days that black metal is more for comedic value then actually for the music, which is usually more of the same rehashed Satanist propaganda with corpse paint-tainted cheesy lyrics as the icing on the cake. Naglfar is exactly what black metal was always supposed to be when it was created back in the hay day of bands such as Possessed and Venom. Naglfar’s lyrics are so dead on, they are actually viciously frightening. The riffs in songs like opener “I am Vengeance” and “Abysmal Descent” smoke you and cut like daggers through your flesh, while “Of Gorgons Spawned Through Witchcraft” is the most spectacular black metal force I have ever heard. On the surface Naglfar might seem to the average metal fan as your typical black metal band. But, you couldn’t be any further from the truth my friend, as hell awaits within these nine attacks against the Christian world, and death is just the beginning to the oncoming torment. Naglfar is thrash metal through and through. Picture Dissection sped up and using the Apocalypse as their lyrical platform - that does about as good a job as you can to describe this hellish experience. Bottom Line: If you haven’t ever been into black metal, now is the time to get your lazy ass off the couch and get your act together. 2003 is already proving to be the best year for black metal ever, with the latest by Old Man’s Child and now, Naglfar. To be completely honest, even the new Cradle of Filth is good and I never thought I would say that about the band. Either way you look at it, black metal this year is going to be up in your face. So, you might as well get used to it and enjoy the cream of the crop. "Sheol" is an excellent album and is by far Naglfar’s best record since their debut "Vittra." If you were never a fan, you will be pleasantly surprised at how much this record slaughters everything in its path. If you are already a fan, smart choice and keep up the good work. I look forward to seeing "Sheol" amongst leaders for album of the year.
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