Naer Mataron - Praetorians
Season Of Mist
Black Metal
11 songs (59:16)
Release year: 2008
Naer Mataron, Season Of Mist
Reviewed by Goat

Naer Mataron have been around since the early 90s, proudly playing ‘Hellenic Black Metal’ from the start, and have varied their sound very little despite the advancing years. The news, then, that on fifth full-length Praetorians the vocals would be performed by the one and only Vicotnik of Norwegian experimentalists Dødheimsgard, Ved Buens Ende and Code must have caused some uneasy shuffling amongst the kvlt and trve ranks of the cellar-dwelling Black Metal elite...

Well, one listen to the album and there’ll be such a noise of relieved celebration coming from the underground that you’ll think the dead are rising. Naer Mataron have not ‘sold out’. Naer Mataron have barely changed their sound from 2005’s particularly traditional Discipline Manifesto, the band’s last album. Heck, even percussive intro piece Anti-Celestial Campaign is very similar to infamous Mayhem piece Silvester Anfang. Sure, the technology’s been updated since 1987, but war drums mean one thing and one thing only when utilised in Black Metal and that’s an outpouring of wrath – and subsequent blastfest Ostara (a Germanic spring Goddess, apparently) goes for the throat. It’s about as catchy as things get, a mid-track breakdown mixing things up a little and resulting in a track that’s oddly similar to recent Mayhem, albeit more straightforward and blasting than anything off Ordo Ad Chao. The sampled warfare sounds are effective as well, but like all bands that attempt to use them, Naer Mataron fall short of the standard set by Panzer Division Marduk.

What’s disappointing afterwards is how much the band fails to build upon that initial torrent. Next track Sun Wheel sounds rather like recent Deicide, breaking down again in the middle for an attempted build-up of epic proportions. Being fair to the band, it mostly works, but with the first half of the track dominated by what sounds like an old motorbike ticking over in front of the microphone (yes, it’s the kickdrums) it’s hard to enjoy. Later tracks such as Death Cast A Shadow Over You are good in a straightforward Black Metal way, but lack that special something that makes good albums into timeless ones. The nine-minute title track is a crawling atmospheric piece, possibly the album highlight, yet again it’s nothing that will make your head explode.

The playing itself is fine, the vocals are varied and interesting, the songs focused and powerful. But, but, but. In a scene such as Black Metal, you really need to go above and beyond the call of duty, and whilst Naer Mataron have produced a very good album, you can’t help but wonder how much better it would have been if the band had been willing to take some risks. If you want Black Metal that does what it says on the tin, then Praetorians will provide an excellent experience. It’s so good, in fact, that it’s hard not to feel silly for being dissatisfied and wanting more. In my opinion, Naer Mataron can and will do better, but don’t be put off in the meantime.

Killing Songs :
Ostara, Secret Heritage, Sol Invictus, Praetorians
Goat quoted 75 / 100
Other albums by Naer Mataron that we have reviewed:
Naer Mataron - River at Dash Scalding reviewed by Alex and quoted 65 / 100
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