This Norwegian group have always been about keeping things authentic and although they have been quiet since 2012 release ‘Greatest Of Deceivers’ it would appear they have been studying studiously in preparation for its follow up. Reading between the lines we are informed that the particular text of choice is the older and younger Edda allowing them to explore “great and classical themes like death, afterlife, war and the many majestic personalities from the mythology” within the narrative here. Of course that’s not all that’s been keeping the band occupied as members have spent time both as recording artists and live members in other groups such as Mayhem, Djerv, Gaahl’s Wyrd, The Konsortium and a host of others.
The urgency in the way they fly into opener ‘Hangaguð’ an ode to Odin the God Of The Hanged shows there’s little in the way of hanging around (sorry) to be spared. The punkish and brutal energy piles in with 1st exposure to Cpt. Estrella Grasa’s incredibly expressive vocal stance, something totally integral to the release and with Destructhor adding backing parts there’s plenty here to focus on just with the vocals. The musicianship is fast and furious bordering on a mix of death and black metal but I love the bass tones courtesy of Sir here giving it an underlying strangeness that is reminiscent of the likes of Virus and Ved Buens Ende. The first couple of numbers are short, sharp and choppy and as lyrics of ‘Surtr’ contest with plenty of fire about them. Exploring sacred poetic texts things slow a bit with ‘The Ballad of Hamther’ which only goes to heighten the craggy and eccentric vocals even more. I guess with CD in hand and a bit of Internet research you will be able to explore the narrative in much more detail and indeed vocals are in English here with words stretched out and contorted in the delivery towering out amidst some creepy and morbid tones within the music. A spoken word part towards conclusion really draws you in to things and serves as a perfect segue into the next track where the adrenaline is boosted up once more. Naturally everything combined makes this an enthralling and complex album that’s going to warrant plenty of listens to fully unpeel its layers.
One other aspect that should not be overlooked are the sinister and glistening atmospheric guitar lines from Teloch, the creepy tones of ‘Gleipnir’ take you right down to the underworld and shut out all light and with vocals raging into a rugged roar the effect is enough to cause hideous shudders. ‘Sol Taker’ is an absolute rager and completely leaves you feeling like you have been caught in the midst of a devastating storm. Anyone with a passing interest in Norse mythology should know the genesis of a song like ‘Ash Yggdrasil’ and here the mythical tree spreads roots and acts as a complete contrast to the last track shimmering and shivering with guitar texture and with clean vocal parts courtesy of none other than Ulver’s Garm (as it sees right to call him in this context). Far from one dimensional the album is incredibly well paced as it moves from one chapter to another with plenty of violent pieces to flirt with the other doom laden segments. Again as the vocals illustrate on ‘Heimdalargaldr’ there a “world falling” feel of impending apocalypse about it all. Last number ‘Naglfar Is Loosed’ has another twist to it with some gorgeous female vocals included and anyone realising that band members here have played live with Myrkur should not be surprised to realise it is her. She also plays a traditional Swedish folk instrument the Nyckelharpa too here.
Not that I feel I have penetrated the album fully by any means here it is one that has loads of depth and substance beyond the actual music itself and I feel that I have learned plenty from dipping into it and reviewing it here too. That’s what true music should be all about rather than a throwaway vacuous commodity and Nidingr are well worthy of your time to both listen to and fully immerse yourself within the experience.
(8/10 Pete Woods)