Thursday, March 13, 2008

Nifelheim - Servants of Darkness (2000)


Servants of Darkness is the third full-length from Sweden's Nifelheim. As always, this band gets better and better with each release and continually display why they are among the elite. This was the first Nifelheim album I had ever heard, years ago, and I managed to pick it up at Sound Pollution, in Stockholm.

The album begins with the sound of wind blowing and bells chiming in the distance. A short acoustic passage stands in contrast to the full on Black/Speed Metal assault of "Evil Blasphemies." This song is filled with speed, chaos, fury and a wickedly haunting melody. Nifelheim are masterful at creating songs that, no matter how short, possess some sort of epic feeling to the harmonies. This is no exception.

"Sadistic Blood Massacre" and "Black Evil" continue on with the same frenetic pace as the opener. As with many Nifelheim songs, the beginning is much more wild and psychotic, and the melodic part seeps in later on. The melodies are really haunting and eerie, and no one does it like this anymore. There is a certain intensity to the vocals as they spew forth uncontrollably and the pace hasn't really let up yet. The war has only just begun...

The pace slows down a bit for the next song, "The Bestial Avenger." This is pure old school madness. This is the longest song on the album, and one of the most memorable. This is fucking evil perfection! This owes much of its existence to 80s Metal. I cannot emphasize enough just how brilliant this band is. This song, like so many others, is like a Satanic anthem. The pace slows down a bit, midway through, and then builds the intensity back up. Definitely one of the best on here.

"War of Doom (Armageddon)" was the first Nifelheim song I ever heard. Without knowing who it was, my first thought was that it was some gem from the 80s that I had missed. I thought that, surely, this was made not long after the classic Bathory albums. I was somewhat shocked when I learned that it was only a year or so old, at the time. Words cannot do justice to this song and its epic nature. The song title is very appropriate, as this sounds like a war march. Varying paces and otherworldly lead solos make this another stand-out track.

The pace picks back up with the title track and "Infernal Desolation." The album continues on with a variety of paces, epic arrangement and furious playing. The production is perfect for this kind of music. It sounds strong and powerful, while still being easy to mistake for something twenty years old. Even the bass is audible at certain parts, adding something to the sound. Oddly enough, I've read idiotic reviews claiming that Nifelheim made noisy, chaotic, talentless music. Such losers should stick to their favorite glam rock albums, as this is not for them. This is classic Black/Speed Metal and is definitely some of the most memorable stuff I've heard.

As we near the end of our Hellish journey, we go "Into the Morbid Black." This is one of my favorite songs on the album. Again, this starts fairly slow, compared to the others, but doesn't fail to speed up here and there. The song title is appropriate, as there is a very morbid atmosphere created with this one. During the slower parts, the vocalist sounds like a possessed corpse that has recently risen from the grave. There is no way that I will ever be able to articulate the brilliance of this song, along with the album closer "Sacrifice to the Lord of Darkness." I don't want to be repetitive, but this song is definitely defined by its intensity and epic nature. Those themes are present throughout the whole album, and most of Nifelheim's albums. This is just one more example of why they are among the elite.

If you don't own this, kill yourself and do it now.