Azaghal - Nemesis
Moribund Cult
Black Metal
10 songs (53:26)
Release year: 2012
Azaghal, Moribund Cult
Reviewed by Charles
Azaghal play black metal with a strongly Finnish accent. Like compatriots Horna, Sargeist, Behexen and so on, their music combines an often enveloping sense of melody (unsurprising given the role of key members in Wyrd) with crackling up-tempo ferocity. What Nemesis lacks in individuality or originality, though, it makes up for in impressive songcraft. This is a strong album, all told, which deserves the attention of anyone into orthodox black metal, especially those of the particularly virulent strain of purist wrath distilled by the abovementioned.

Little distinguishes its constituent parts from other entrants to this crowded marketplace on the first few listens. Narqath’s vocals are typically rasping (excepting some creepy shrieks on closer Satanic Devotion), and Chernobog’s drumming is competent if somewhat one-dimensional. No, the strength of this album lies in its guitar parts. They are adaptable and creative (within the strict limits laid down by the medium) and manage to eke out memorable riffs at either end of the orthodox black metal tempo scale. At the slower end, snorting down-tempo grooves have just the right amount of callous attitude (e.g. Black Legions of Satan), and passages like the introduction to Vihasta ja Veritöistä have a trudging sadness to them. At the upper end, the riffing on De Masticatione Mortuorum or Pohjoisen Valkoinen Kuolema brims with malevolent, thrashing energy. There is also craft in the way these elements are bound together. The last mentioned stamps and spits between fast and slow, illuminating the tense construction with slivers of sickly melodic light in its latter half.

To return to the bands mentioned at the start; the overall effect of the record perhaps falls between poles somewhat. It doesn’t quite muster the ear-splitting power of Behexen, the esoteric venom of Horna’s feedback-emitting lacerations, or the layered melodic depth of Sargeist. Nonetheless, at its best Nemesis does have a sort of deep, dark power, drawn chiefly from the strength of the guitar ideas. Witness, for example, the pulsating rhythms and ominous tonalities of Hail the Whore. Pit of Shoggoths winds precariously from swooping, stomping riffs into a thrillingly out-of-place tapping guitar solo, and finally into some tasteful lead harmonies. Marvellous, even if it’s still too conventional to be called “Pit of Shoggoths”. Azaghal are pros, and as a work of orthodox black metal this barely puts a foot wrong.

Killing Songs :
Hail the Whore, Pit of Shoggoths, Pohjoisen Valkoinen Kuolema
Charles quoted 80 / 100
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