I've always had a love/hate relationship with Naglfar, on the outside they seem like an awesome band. All the musicians are extremely tight, and they really do create an evil brooding atmosphere, to me, their brilliance has only been in short bursts that haven't been able to keep my attention on their albums very long. The first I owned, "Sheol" was the least afflicted by this, the next "Pariah" saw a steady decline towards re-hashing themselves (and other bands as well, namely Dissection).
On this album they have solidified this in my mind. Like I said, they are very good, but only good with the limited pallete they use to make their songs with. Not only do they have a very formulaic routine to song structure, but they reuse chord progressions that they not only have played on past albums, but on songs in the same album. To me as a musician, this signifies a lack of depth in songwriting. The feeling is there, but it won't work for repeated listens unless you are o.k. with hearing the same thing over and over again, there is no sense in making the same album over and over again. There should always be the spark of adventure to the songwriting, as if they are finding themselves through their instruments and learning new ways to get a similar point across. Naglfar, to me at this point, has not stepped up to that challenge and seems more content with playing it safe.
Don't get me wrong, I love black metal, but I'm afraid I've heard too many other bands that were much more creative in this field than this band, and I suspect that more often than not, their appeal goes to people who haven't delved deeply into what this sub-genre of metal has to offer. Band names I can think of off the top of my head that display creativity, brooding menace, and technical skills are: Absu, Emperor, The Ruins of Beverast (which was formed by a former member of Naglfar, and far superior in my eyes), Primordial, Mayhem,... the list could go on and on, because there really are that many more exciting bands in black metal than these guys. They settle for the same old chord progressions, the same old song structures and melodies that are sometimes quite indistinguishable from song to song, album to album. The most redeeming thing I can do with my Naglfar cd's is compile my favorites out of their 3 albums I own and burn a play list of it off of iTunes to make a sort of "best of.." I would probably be able to get 8 or 9 songs out of there that are distinct enough to stand on their own, thus making a album that would in effect be better than listening to them seperately.
I've waited for 4 years for Naglfar to grow up in the songwriting department and expand, but every time they release another cookie-cutter album I lose interest a little bit more. I'm wondering whether or not I'll end up buying their next cd or not, this release certainly doesn't improve the chances. Neither does their over welcome stay in mimicking the riffs of Dissection. . If you must buy a cd by these guys, I would reccommend "Sheol" above all others, if you buy anymore you may start to feel de ja vu in the "fresh ideas department".