Naglfar - Vittra
Regain Records
Melodic Black Metal
12 songs (59'25")
Release year: 2007
Naglfar, Regain Records
Reviewed by Alex
Archive review

I have been meaning to post a review of this album for a while, but could not quite reconcile my internal dilemma. Does Vittra belong among Classics? Swedish Regain Records, who are resurrecting everything worthwhile ever put out by Wrong Again Records (WAR), have spurred me on and settled the debate by reissuing the album with bonus tracks. Sneaking under the radar of Archive, those who missed Vittra in the days of yore now have a chance to experience this minor classic of an album truly representing what Melodic, with a capital M, Black Metal is all about.

I have certainly not been privy to the creative process that went on with this then young Swedish band when the songs which eventually appeared on Vittra were put together. Yet somehow I feel compelled to dispel the myth that Naglfar simply followed in the footsteps of Dissection and, overwhelmed by the stunner which was Storm of the Light’s Bane, decided to make an album which was also technical, melodic and chilling at the same time. Just look at these mere facts, Storm of the Light’s Bane appeared in 1995 and Vittra also was originally issued in 1995 combining the songs from the earlier demos Steallae Trajectio and (statement!) We Are Naglfar – Fuck You! Instead, I want to offer up a theory that the mysterious musical forces converged on these two Swedish bands and allowed them to crystallize what perhaps still represents the best two albums Swedish black metal ever generated.

The instrumental title track not appearing until late in the album manages to somehow sum up best how Vittra blends beauty and grimness in one seemingly unfathomable package that in the end utterly makes sense. Borrowing on the name of the Scandinavian folk fairy, the album perfectly captures what that mythical personage did to unsuspecting souls. She drew poor human beings into the forest before destroying them there. Vittra, the album, lures you in with its superb melodies and flawless technicality only to ravage you with its viciousness and aggressive pressure.

Naglfar’s riffs often remind of blackened Iron Maiden, their gallops (Enslave the Astral Fortress, Sunless Dawn) considerably more barbed in nature. Their melodies are spreading thick, connecting the songs in one unstoppable flow, sometimes folky (The Eclipse of Internal Storms), sometimes tremoloed (Emerging from Her Weepings), sometimes bearing a tasteful touch of synthesizer (The Eclipse of Internal Storms, Failing Wings ending serving as segue into almost instrumental Vittra). Yet throughout and above it all stands Naglfar’s guitar tone – shrill, penetrating, triumphant, cold as pure icy water dripping down one’s back. Be it the aforementioned tremolo riffs, or dual guitar harmonies and leads (Enslave the Astral Fortress, Emerging from Her Weepings), even if you decide to air guitar along with the band, this sense of stabbing harsh coldness never lets go.

Next to Naglfar’s guitars exist vocals of Jens Ryden, one of my favorite black metal singers. His voice, a howling wolf-banshee crossbreed choking on its own venom is a commanding barking leathery whip. It is definitely an acquired taste, something a black metal passerby will not appreciate, but Jens never lacks passion (the same can be said about any of his other projects) and his screams are truly blood curdling. Next to him, Peter Tagtgren’s deathy growls form one demonic dialog.

Although many since complained about the drums being a little too loud on the album and the guitars not up front enough, I was always able to hear all instruments amalgamated into self-propelled exalted unison. Thrashing, blasting, melodic, this album also contains a hefty dose of introspection best revealed by the album’s closing lyrics line:” I left my shell and this mortal world to receive life everlasting …”

The reissue also has three tracks from the Maiden Slaughter demo which followed Vittra: the engulfing supermelodic 12th Rising and two fitting covers, Iron Maiden’s The Evil That Men Do and Kreator’s Pleasure to Kill. From traditional metal to mocking thrash, Naglfar pays homage to the roots directly responsible for the band taking original shape and combining it with non-compromising Nordic spirit.

Killing Songs :
Enslave the Astral Fortress, The Eclipse of Internal Storms, Emerging from Her Weepings, 12th Rising
Alex quoted 90 / 100
Other albums by Naglfar that we have reviewed:
Naglfar - Harvest reviewed by Dylan and quoted 90 / 100
Naglfar - Sheol reviewed by Alex and quoted 87 / 100
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