Tuesday, August 20, 2013

Sargeist - Nockmaar / Heralding Breath of the Pestilence (2001)

Nockmaar is the first demo from Sargeist, recorded in 1999. Two years later, it was re-released with newer versions of two of its three songs. Even the expanded version is rather short. At this point, the project did not resemble the Sargeist that we would come to know later on.

Compared to Haudankylmyyden Mailla, the Horna album released that same year, this sounds very different. The necro sound of Nockmaar is a far cry from the almost crystal clear production of Horna's third full-length and sounds like Shatraug's attempt at creating his own Wrath of the Tyrant. The vocals are buried in the mix and the guitars possess a rather soft tone since the hissing and poor production do not allow for any sort of rawness. It sounds fuzzy, but very non-threatening, which does not help the music.

The songwriting is not all that spectacular. These tracks could be forgotten demos of any of the old Norwegian bands, really. One can definitely hear a little Burzum, during the slower open-arpeggio section of "Swords & Fire". "Heralding Breath of the Pestilence" shows influence from Emperor, one of Shatraug's favourite bands. There is nothing bad about the songs, here, though they are a bit generic. Still, for anyone that appreciates this style, there really are no complaints, other than the poor sound that seems to favour the drums over all else. The re-recorded versions are a little puzzling, as they do not sound different enough to really warrant releasing two versions. Even the sound quality is the same.

Nockmaar / Heralding Breath of the Pestilence gets no points for originality, but these are merely demos where Sargeist was still searching for its own voice. Shatraug did  good job in paying tribute to the early '90s style of Black Metal that he has done so well in keeping alive ever since. There is no experimentation, here, just grim and necro Black Metal that should please fans of the old Norwegian scene as well as the LLN.