Saturday, March 7, 2015

Nifelheim - Satanatas (2014)

Nifelheim is a band that, seemingly, values playing live more than spending time in the studio. Thus, fans are tortured in-between releases, as they become more and more rare. The wait from Servants of Darkness until Envoy of Lucifer was hardly bearable, but ultimately rewarding. Since then, another seven years has passed and still no full-length. However, in December 2014, a special E.P. was released, available only at live shows. 

Titled Satanatas, this mini-album features three tracks of uncompromising and old school Black Metal, as it should be. No more forced to look to the likes of Mordant or Pest, the trademark sound of Nifelheim triumphantly seizes the consciousness of the listener with "From Hell's Vast Plains". There is a sense of familiarity in certain parts, reminiscent of "Infernal Flame of Destruction", though soon taking on an identity of its own. The songwriting skills of Tyrant and Hellbutcher cannot be praised enough, somehow managing to compose mini-epics all while maintaining an ugly and primitive feeling.

"I rise in flames
from Hell's vast plains
to burn...
til nothing will remain"

One noticeable difference between Satanatas and Envoy of Lucifer is that the production is not quite as clear, sounding more like the previous releases. This suits the pure 80's vibe of the compositions, particularly "Bestial Rites". This song really hearkens back to early Bathory, like a more sinister and possessed take of The Return... There is a subtle gloom to this track that darkens the atmosphere all the more. As always, utterly hellish solo work remains a key component of Nifelheim's songwriting and is very effective. 

These guys are truly remarkable in their ability to craft excellent songs, never sacrificing the purity of the music and still being able to make each track stand on its own and sound distinct and original. "Praise Lord Satan" is the longest of the three, clocking in at just four and a half minutes, and is instantly memorable after just one listen. It is amazing how Nifelheim is able to sound so old school and so unique, both at the same time, never falling into the trap of merely coming off as some kind of 'retro act'. 

The duration of Satanatas is less than twelve minutes, and yet this is some of the purest and most genuine Black Metal that has been released in several years. Though many false bands claim that the black flame burns within them, Nifelheim need claim nothing. There music proves that they are, and always have been, among the few that are actually toiling away in an effort to keep hell's fires burning. Seek out this essential recording however you must.