|Review: Nazxul - Totem|
Label: Vampire Records
Year released: 1995
Genre: Black Metal
Review online: April 23, 2017
Reviewed by: Omni
Rated 4.2/5 (84%) (5 Votes)
I blindly bought this album in the mid-2000s because I was intrigued by the band name and cover art. At the time, I hadn't listened to any other black metal bands from Australia, and I certainly didn't know what to expect from Nazxul. I had seen them compared to early Emperor up to In the Nightside Eclipse, which suited me just fine as I was never into the direction that Emperor took on Anthems to the Welkin at Dusk and beyond. Even before I had the album in my hands, it already seemed quite mysterious. The band had deliberately cultivated an enigmatic nature for themselves, even despite drummer Steve Hughes quitting the band in 1999 and becoming a successful stand-up comedian.
This album immediately delivers on the promise of being a successor to the early Emperor recordings, although Nazxul's take on that sound is a bit more feral and occult in nature. Most of the songs are very intense and dynamic with some moments of dissonance, and the keyboards really only serve to accentuate the structure of the guitar-based music rather than threatening to overwhelm it. While Hughes may not have been in it for the long haul, his drumming is quite excellent on this album and a more varied alternative to the endless blasting that dominates so many other black metal releases. I also have to give a special mention to Dalibor Backovic, as his low and distorted growling is more demonic than most black metal vocalists and sounds totally fitting for the evil music found in this album. The title track is the only song that has available lyrics, and they are suitably occult in nature.
An interesting fact about this album is that the original 1995 Vampire Records CD contains a studio recording of "Hymn of a Dying Moon" as a hidden bonus track. This song was originally featured on their 1994 demo, and the studio version appears at the end of "Eternum" after a long interlude consisting of the sound of thunder and rain. This track has been removed from subsequent versions of the album. The length of the album with this entire track omitted is nearly half an hour shorter. Nazxul is still around today with a very different lineup and an updated sound, but this album remains highly recommended to fans of early Emperor and other bands that took heed of their music such as classic Abigor and Obtained Enslavement.
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