Formed in 1992, Umeå, Sweden’s black metal nihilists NAGLFAR were quite prolific on the front end of their existence. Between their classic 1995 debut “Vittra,” and 2012’s “Téras”, NAGLFAR unfurled four other full lengths with no more than five years between each one. It has been a long eight year stretch between releases for NAGLFAR, but despite the eight year wait, the band hasn’t been resting on their laurels. Like any slumbering beast, NAGLFAR have returned from their respite ferocious and hungry with their seventh full length album “Cerecloth”. Recorded and mixed by NAGLFAR guitarist Marcus Norman at Wolf’s Lair Studio, and mastered by Dan Swanö at Unisound, the underlying musical and lyrical themes of “Cerecloth” were succinctly and confidently described by guitarist Andreas Nilsson: “The usual death and destruction.”
Judging from Andreas’ curt description, and the grim, ghostly cover art from the renowned artist Kristian Wåhlin certain death is exactly what “Cerecloth” holds within. The opening and title track drops like a bloodthirsty guillotine. It is a jarring and violent beginning, and a fitting introduction to the subsequent eight tracks. Thankfully, given that a severed head still retains some senses, listeners will instinctively absorb the frenetic remainder of the record. Like a poisonous spider meticulously weaving its web, there is beauty and elegance to “Cerecloth”’s black metal malevolence. But, like the aforementioned venomous arachnid in “Cerecloth” there is also an undeniable element of spine-tingling terror and weighted dread. The melodious underpinning in tracks like “Horns” and “Like Poison For The Soul” could almost be angelic if it weren’t for their slashing and sneering black metal. Tracks like “The Dagger In Creation” and “A Sanguine Tide Unleashed” rip with an audio attack that is unrelenting and frigidly cold.
NAGLFAR also has the means to reign in their fury and provide fans with a slower sound on a few tracks. Songs like “Cry of the Serafim” lurches and lumbers like some grotesque, ethereal H.P. Lovecraft creature, and “Necronaut” has a crawling, yet triumphant dirge. Altogether, fast or slow, “Cerecloth”’s black metal barrage takes zero prisoners.