Album Review – Naglfar / Cerecloth (2020)

One of Sweden’s most infernal Black Metal hordes has finally returned from their respite, ferocious and hungry with their seventh full-length opus.

It has been eight long years between releases for Umeå, Sweden’s Black Metal nihilists Naglfar, but despite the wait the band hasn’t been resting on their laurels. Like any slumbering beast, Naglfar have returned from their respite, ferocious and hungry with their seventh full-length album Cerecloth, bringing their usual destruction to fans all around the world. Recorded and mixed by the band’s own guitarist Marcus E. Norman at Wolf’s Lair Studio, mastered by Dan Swanö at Unisound, and featuring a cadaverous artwork by Jan Kristian Wåhlin, the underlying musical and lyrical themes of Cerecloth were succinctly and confidently described by guitarist Andreas Nilsson as “the usual death and destruction”. Currently formed by the aforementioned guitarists Andreas Nilsson and Marcus E. Norman, as well as frontman Kristoffer W. Olivius and guests A. Impaler (aka Alex Friberg) from Firespawn on bass and Efraim Juntunen from Guillotine and Persuader on drums, Naglfar sound tighter and more Stygian than ever in Cerecloth, positioning the album as one of the best releases of the year in the world of extreme music.

Cryptic, eerie noises from the depths explode into Naglfar’s infernal Black Metal in the opening track Cerecloth, where Efraim proves why he was chosen to join the band in this album while Kristoffer vociferates from the bottom of his blackened heart nonstop. In other words, what a fantastic start to the album, and continuing to pave their path of obscurity and horror the band fires the classic Norwegian Black Metal hymn titled Horns, with both Andreas and Marcus sounding utterly hellish with their riffs and solos while A. Impaler’s bass punches darkly reverberate in the air. Then thunderous bass sounds and a phantasmagorical atmosphere kick off the heavy-as-hell Like Poison for the Soul, where the acid words growled by Kristoffer will burn your ears (“So my path is chosen / No more false affinity / The time has come to leave / Your worth are the equivalent of a dead insect to me / Indifference be my name”) in a lesson in old school Black Metal with melodic nuances.

Vortex of Negativity is another hurricane of darkened riffs, blast beats and endless violence led by the strident guitars by Andreas and Marcus, supported by the pulverizing drums by Efraim and, therefore, being tailored for fans of the genre, whereas in Cry of the Serafim the band blends the piercing sounds of the early days of Norwegian Black Metal with contemporary Melodic Black Metal, with Kristoffer sounding inhumane with his gnarls and roars, all boosted by the intricate beats by Efraim. After such demonic onrush of sounds we have The Dagger in Creation, a bestial tune offering us all pure, undisputed Black Metal that will pulverize your senses spearheaded by the razor-edged riffs by the band’s infernal guitar duo, while A. Impaler and Efraim generate a sonic earthquake with their respective weapons.

A Sanguine Tide Unleashed brings to our putrid ears one more round of infuriated lyrics (“Men of Isa / Your end is fucking nigh / Like a surging wave we come for you / With murder in our eyes / Vermin filth / Bastard sons of the virgin whore / You’re the plague that walk upon this earth / And we are the cure / A sanguine tide unleashed”) while the music follows that same austere and aggressive pattern, with the metallic riffs and bass punches blasted by the band providing Kristoffer all he needs to thrive with his visceral growling. Then doomed guitars and the anguished gnarls by Kristoffer are the main ingredients in the sluggish and obscure Necronaut, slightly below the rest of the album in terms of punch and creativity, followed by the closing chant Last Breath of Yggdrasil with its over six minutes of utterly demolishing and darkened sounds, with all band members putting their damned hearts and souls into this Black Metal extravaganza, resulting in a one-way voyage to the pits of the underworld and also ending in the most disturbing way possible.

It’s indeed a dark pleasure to see that veterans like Naglfar still have so much electricity, darkness and passion for Black Metal inside them, not selling out nor sounding weak or uninspired at all. Quite the contrary, what they accomplished in Cerecloth truly deserves our appreciation, turning the album into one of the best Black Metal releases of 2020 as already mentioned without a shadow of a doubt. Hence, don’t forget to follow such distinguished Swedish horde on Facebook and on Instagram, and to grab your desired copy of Cerecloth by clicking HERE. Andreas couldn’t have been more spot-on when he said the album would bring forward Naglfar’s usual death and destruction, exactly the way we all like it in extreme music, and may the absolute awesomeness of Cerecloth fuel this Swedish institution to keep burning our souls with their undisputed Black Metal sooner than we can imagine, as I don’t think fans of Black Metal have what it takes to wait for another eight excruciating years for a new Nagflar’s album.

Best moments of the album: Cerecloth, Like Poison for the Soul, A Sanguine Tide Unleashed and Last Breath of Yggdrasil.

Worst moments of the album: Necronaut.

Released in 2020 Century Media Records

Track listing
1. Cerecloth 4:05
2. Horns 4:38
3. Like Poison for the Soul 6:31
4. Vortex of Negativity 5:02
5. Cry of the Serafim 4:25
6. The Dagger in Creation 5:07
7. A Sanguine Tide Unleashed 3:54
8. Necronaut 3:29
9. Last Breath of Yggdrasil 6:30

Band members
Kristoffer W. Olivius – vocals
Andreas Nilsson – guitar
Marcus E. Norman – guitar

Guest musicians
A. Impaler – bass (session)
Efraim Juntunen – drums (session)