Nagelfar - Hunengrab im Herbst
Kettenhund Records
Black Metal
7 songs (55:33)
Release year: 1997
Reviewed by Tony
Admittedly, for a college graduate and a man who claims to be knowledgeable in many regards, specifically Heavy Metal among my friends, my ego took a strike when I reviewed what I knew about Norse Mythology. For an era in time bearing axe wielding overgrown monsters raiding everything they could find, I can’t imagine why I had never looked into all of this. Yes, Vikings – and their religion as documented in the Poetic Edda, have long been the inspiration for Metal musicians spanning Europe and beyond. The Norse histories rival Tolkien and the abolition of Christendom as the dominant themes amongst these extremists in Metal. One such act is Sweden’s Melodic Black Metal act, Naglfar. As I perused their quite attractive discography, I became aware of another band named for the famed galleon in which Loki will lead his fleet to Ragnarok. These were Germans’ Nagelfar. Noticing the ‘e’ in their spelling, which denotes it as a German iteration, I looked into their punctuated but notable discography. Reading their history, it is to be understood that a mutual agreement between the founders, Zorn and Alexander von Meilenwald. This agreement stated that as the two founders, if one lost the energy to move on, the band would cease to exist. This was, in fact the case. Quite a few notable musicians have graced the ranks. Zingultus, the famed talent of Enstille, was one of their members. Alexander continued to form The Ruins of Beverast.

Nothing however, was as important or as influential as the album that warrants all of this ridiculous backstory. Such monumental German bands such as Lunar Aurora can thank Nagelfar for getting the wheels rolling on the siege engine that would be such intensified German Black Metal. That album, is Hunengrab im Herbst . The album finds a strange mix of very lengthy pieces with all types of hooks thrown in from synth to raw talent and ambient moments that don’t feel like a waste of time. There can be moments admittedly where a 14 minute song could be condensed due to that four minute intro that could be two. Here, Nagelfar never waste a second on their album. Hunengrab im Herbst would denote a career’s worth of notoriety all at once. It was the tail end of 1997 as the American pop charts were experiencing one of their worst floods of dreadful music. Meanwhile, Europe was losing some of the acts that made Scandinavia such a chaotic hovel. It wasn’t necessarily a bad thing that the scene had some great acts fall by the wayside or simply retract their extremism. However, the loss of life and the burning of churches are to some a thinning ice of a subject, one which I will not shed my opinion on.

What the album brings to the table is a vast array of special moments combined with ensuing Black Metal fury. There’s no true structure to anything. The songs ebb and flow with a curious excitement that keeps the listener awake and never aware of what is to come next. Whether it be a straight shot of heavy blasts and alternate picked guitar, creative drumming, or moments of clean beauty, Hunengrab im Herbst. always has fans guessing.

Another unpredictable quality about this album is the lengths of the songs. They all have quite a length to them, but the first track: Seelenland is around six minutes, while the next, Schwanengesang is over fourteen. The band have wondrous atmospheric moments, but this is not some meandering ambient band. Seelenland in particular has Varg-esque vocals that Jander claims influence from. His vocals may not be to that extent of incorrigibility, but he certainly has the type of delivery that if mocked without prior talent, can cause one to asphyxiate them. The vocals distinguish Jander as somewhere between Varg and sanity, teetering that line that bears so much intensity yet has its limitations that permit discernibility. Obviously the language is German, so it’s of no use to me. The instruments are all played magnificently, but still have a human quality about them. Despite such a limited tenure and discography, Nagelfar were the grand creators of one of the most thriving scenes in Europe. Today, Germany boasts a number of great Black Metal bands both above and below the radar. What Germany needed was one great band to create a vast reaching masterpiece that could transcend time and lay the foundation for the country to be viewed with legitimacy. Over time, Black Metal would move on its proverbial nail ship eastward where Poland and Ukraine would therein benefit. Hunengrab im Herbst was a rock to build on, a bridge east , and despite its merit in history, is also a classic on the grounds of the music itself. Here, we are not comparing a bespectacled George Mikan to Shaq, we are simply talking about a record that in every which way, warrants a classic rating. Go out and get this one.

Killing Songs :
Tony quoted CLASSIC
Other albums by Nagelfar that we have reviewed:
Nagelfar - Virus West reviewed by Alex and quoted 70 / 100
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