(Century Media)

01. I Am Vengeance
02. Black God Aftermath
03. Wrath Of The Fallen
04. Abysmal Descent
05. Devoured By Naglfar
06. Of Gorgons Spawned Through Witchcraft
07. Unleash Hell
08. Force Of Pandemonium
09. The Infernal Ceremony

RATING: 7.5/10

Extraordinary claims are being made about this third album from Sweden's highly rated students of the dark arts. " 'Sheol' will be to Sweden what IMMORTAL's 'Sons of Northern Darkness' was to the National Pride of Norway in 2002," trumpet the record company. Hey, thanks for the revelation and all that, but we're sure there'll be perhaps the odd Norwegian who found IMMORTAL's facepaint jobs alone just a little too ridiculous to start running flags up the pole in celebration.

Then, more reasonably and understandably for a label, they go on to claim "there is not ONE track that doesn't kick ass." Not quite, we say, but we'd meet them halfway and say that "Sheol" is a pleasingly consistent album that perhaps five years ago would've been considered a pivotal work. Now, though, with the near-explosion of black metal into the mainstream conscience, NAGLFAR have much more to do in cementing their superiority.

Rather than seething and gnashing and just throwing everything at the god-fearing listener at full pelt, "Sheol" (Hebrew for "hell", incidentally) is actually quite a controlled animal. In a roundabout way, it actually takes cues from the guy who came up with the cover artwork (DARK TRANQUILLITY's prolific Niklas Sundin) and sounds a tad like those Swedish heavy mentalists geared up a few notches. Yes, there are blast beats all over "Black God Aftermath", "Of Gorgons Spawned Through Witchcraft", and "Unleash Hell", but you couldn't really term it extreme in the sense of being harsh or jarring.

And the extras to give it that original sheen? Well, there isn't anything here that re-invents the wheel, so to speak. But then, it's probably all in the atmos with these sort of things, which is where "Sheol" scores highly — phasing in those cold Northern keyboard flourishes to really good effect without them becoming obtrusive or stupidly carnival-esque.

Black metal with poise, imagination and craft? NAGLFAR aren't yet the standard-bearers, but they're marching purposefully on alongside the DIMMU BORGIRs of this world.


To comment on a BLABBERMOUTH.NET story or review, you must be logged in to an active personal account on Facebook. Once you're logged in, you will be able to comment. User comments or postings do not reflect the viewpoint of BLABBERMOUTH.NET and BLABBERMOUTH.NET does not endorse, or guarantee the accuracy of, any user comment. To report spam or any abusive, obscene, defamatory, racist, homophobic or threatening comments, or anything that may violate any applicable laws, use the "Report to Facebook" and "Mark as spam" links that appear next to the comments themselves. To do so, click the downward arrow on the top-right corner of the Facebook comment (the arrow is invisible until you roll over it) and select the appropriate action. You can also send an e-mail to blabbermouthinbox(@) with pertinent details. BLABBERMOUTH.NET reserves the right to "hide" comments that may be considered offensive, illegal or inappropriate and to "ban" users that violate the site's Terms Of Service. Hidden comments will still appear to the user and to the user's Facebook friends. If a new comment is published from a "banned" user or contains a blacklisted word, this comment will automatically have limited visibility (the "banned" user's comments will only be visible to the user and the user's Facebook friends).