It, quite rightly, takes a lot for a black metal album to impress these days. So when one lands from a Swedish band with five albums already under their belt, you can’t help but brace for a journeyman effort with plenty of corpse paint and diabolical sermonising thrown into the bargain. Nothing wrong with that when you want to kick back and enjoy a bit of straight up and down blasphemy, I hear you say. But Nazghor have been on a steadily improving curve in their relatively short but productive career – starting out with a harsher, more punishing sound then gradually letting those hints of tantalising Swedish melody bleed through. What’s not to love about the glorious, lunatic riffing on Born of Misanthropic Blackness from 2014’s Upon the Darkest Season or the blackened dirge finale off the band’s last album Death’s Withered Chants? In short, there’s plenty to dig into for those unfamiliar with the overtly satanic ways of Nazghor.
But, now on their sixth album in just five years with Infernal Aphorism, the band has begun ramming home the style initially developed on previous album Death’s Withered Chants like a iron stake merrily hammered into the heart of the unworthy. Nazghor has become a well-honed and all too impressive mix of aggression and melody that weaves its way right through this latest release. It’s a sound that fabulously flexes the black metal style in a way that reminds me a lot of Necrophobic at their best with rabidly delivered black metal all sewn together with soaring riffs and an almost playful approach to song structures. This is what now separates Nazghor from the pack and makes it an effortlessly interesting listen while layering on thick the driving tremolo accompaniment which provides both fantastic hooks and a nice ‘fuck you’ to any casual listeners that might get too close to the air raid siren-like edge to their sound (which also includes and actual air raid siren sample at one point).
If its relentless black metal aggression you want – there’s plenty of that too with obvious comparisons to be had with Watain on tracks like Deathless Serpent. While the headbanging Rite of Repugnant Fury is nothing short of addictive. But, frankly, Nazghor don’t even bother to hide their influences – preferring to wear them on their unwashed sleeves for all to see. But it’s on tracks like Ephemeral Hunger – with its guttural chant and frenzied drumming (did I mention the drums? It’s almost worth buying this for the drums alone) – and the almost jaunty intro on Spawns of All Evil that you know this band is truly flying. The last 20 minutes is enough to lose yourself completely with yet more hooks that, by now, the band is firing off with abandon and a penultimate track that most black metal bands would more than happily have settled on for the finale.
But, perhaps predictably by now, the band has saved an explosive cartridge in the last barrel just for us – with a 10 minute baleful stomp that even segues perfectly into a storm of blast beats halfway through and then into pure shoegaze, all delivered with aplomb just in case you thought Nazghor were getting complacent. Infernal Aphorism is an album of jagged, luciferian salutations laced with searing, soulful tremolo riffs was beautifully rounded off with superb mastery of their sound and songwriting. It has sealed Nazghor’s rise from a worthy, corpse-painted contender and unfurled their blood-soaked banner for all to see in a victorious salute to the dark one.
(8.5/10 Reverend Darkstanley)