|Review: Nagelfar - Hunengrab im Herbst|
|Hunengrab im Herbst|
Label: Kettenhund Records
Year released: 1997
Genre: Black Metal
Review online: April 11, 2009
Reviewed by: Brett Buckle
for:Hunengrab im Herbst
Rated 3.86/5 (77.27%) (22 Votes)
When Nagelfar shut up shop in 2002 they left behind them a legacy of vicious avant-garde Black Metal that was uncompromising as it was experimental. Following the wake of their three full-length releases were several huge bands – the psychedelic Verdenkeln, the vicious Graupel, and of course the enormous and bombastic The Ruins of Beverast. With a pedigree such as that it should be no surprise that their 1997 debut long player, Hünengrab im Herbst ("Dolmen in Autumn"), is a fucking tour de force of brain melting malicious Black Metal and some more progressive/avant-garde elements that was just a little ahead of its time.
After a brief wash of atmospherics, Hünengrab im Herbst bursts into "Seelenland" with a seering blast of Black Metal riffing that weaves about a slower verse with mixed harsh and clean vocals and some airy keyboards floating above the riffs. This is immediately memorable and visceral music, diverse and dynamic, plunging you into the "Land of Souls" through the emotive vocals and expert pacing. The track is over far too soon, but thankfully it delivers us unto the massive "Schwanengesang" via some classic tremolo riffing and a just pure fucking crushing riff that incorporates some sharp industrial tinged keyboards. For my money the vocals of Jander are superior to those of Zingultus on their later works as he is able to switch effortlessly between unearthly screaming and an odd kind of morose clean vocals that are made all the more effective for being exclusively sung in German. He seems able to choose the best voice for a particular song section and lends the tracks an air of the epic by providing a genuine narrative. "Schwanegesnang" ("Swansong") has more riffs in its 14+ minutes than many Black Metal bands can squeeze into an entire album, and each is melodic and memorable, capturing that sense of despair and anger the title hints at. The end of the track is huge as clean vocals soar over an epic set of riffs and accompanied by some just plain cool blasting (that blast over the top of the regular drum beat). Album closer "Der Flug des Raben" is similarly epic in scope and execution, with riff after riff overflowing its similar 14 minute length. The title track is a piano piece over which Jander croons his clean vocals, slowly building up over its five and half minutes to a crescendo of background distortion and distant drums, and then halting, letting the distorted bass intro of "Bildnis der Apokalypse" ease you into some memorable Black Metal riffing and tremoloing. The beauty of this is that at this point there is still 30 minutes left in the album, and it is the equal of the preceding 25. Hünengrab im Herbst never gets tiring and your attention is held throughout. Even after having heard it dozens of times you can still be excited by a riff here or segue there, as expertly crafted nuances unfold from the layers of riffs giving you something to look forward to on the next listen.
Hünengrab im Herbst is a Black Metal classic; wide ranging yet focused, uplifting yet vicious and gut wrenching. The sheer number of excellent riffs and strong songwriting will all but guarantee you will be listening to this album years after you first hear it. This re-release from Ván is remastered with a bonus track (although it goes unnamed, it is a demo quality excursion into more traditional Black Metal, but does feature one hell of an insane vocal performance), and the A5 digi packaging is just superb, well worth the outlay even if you own the original. For fans of Black Metal this is an essential release, one that will find its way back into your CD player over and over. Buy it now.
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