“Envoy Of Lucifer” by Nifelheim

Artist: Nifelheim
Title: “Envoy Of Lucifer”
Label: Regain Records
Release Date: 1/8/2008
Genre: Black Metal
Rating: 3.5/5

The great thing about this seventh release from the Swedish band Nifelheim is that it throttles along with some of the textures primarily found in Black Metal but does so with more homage to that of the classic Speed & Thrash Metal from days gone by. While I hate to draw comparisons they reminded me a little of the better stuff that came out of old Venom, but the guys in Nifelheim truly have a lot more in the way of technical chops to their advantage. Led by twin brothers Erik and Per Gustavsson, who are referred to onstage as Tyrant and Hellbutcher in the band, they lead the charge for Satanic glory at a blistering pace. The album “Envoy Of Lucifer” pretty much explains their premise and direction but Hellbutcher’s vocals can actually be deciphered if one takes the time to figure out what he is saying. He growls throughout the whole release and while there is not a clean or melodic vocal to be found anywhere on the album his voice does not bore you or have you annoyed since it’s not one that is over the top ridiculous. The recording starts you off with the “Infernal Flame Of Destruction” and with it you are quickly drawn into the sinister web that Nifelheim is weaving. Their music is powerful, and incredibly fast but not so much by the way of blast beat drumming but instead with the help of some serious guitar fretwork. It’s a great opening track but for me the first tune that caught my attention was “Open The Gates Of Damnation” since for some reason this reminded me a little bit of Immortal. I’m not sure why this was the case but perhaps it was based on the feel of the riff and the way it was being delivered to the listener.

By the time the album has reached its midway point you are hit with the realization that the band can actually play their instruments very well. Yes this kind of music often finds good players but sometimes its too darned fast to appreciate what is going on and that ends up hurting the group and the genre on the whole. There are skillful tempo changes and impressive solos on many of the songs yet we find this most specifically on “Belial’s Prey”, which is an incredible track thanks to the twin lead guitar work of Johan and Sebastian, oops I’m sorry I mean the guitar work of Apocalyptic Desolator and Vengeance From Beyond. With this one the pair breaks convention on the type of lead work that one would often find in most Black Metal themed groups. The guys continue to show they can play and very well at that with the closing number “No More Life” and with this one there are a number of mood setting intros and then racing climbs to a peak where the band then drops you back down. The bass rumbles along steadily and while the drums are quite solid there is nothing that goes out of the box with them for the recording. Their drummer, Insulter Of Jesus Christ, also played with Entombed which was more of a Black Metal Rock band, so it was nice to see him kicking up his own playing a little bit more for this one.

While I have been a Black and Death Metal fan for about five or six years now I didn’t really have too much extensive background on Nifelheim, so after listening to this release I had to say that when it ended I was finding myself rather impressed with them. Given there are only ten songs on the recording it does go by rather quickly and as a matter of fact the whole album runs just over forty two minutes. Most tracks are at the four minute mark but there is one epic at seven minutes. They don’t give you lyrics in the enclosed booklet but instead give you one that is loaded with photos of the band who are all made up in Corpse paint and spiked armor. I also liked the cover art which finds a Grim Reaper standing in the fiery maw of some obvious demonic entity. Despite this lyrical omission there is no question as to what their subject matter is aimed at and this is pretty much directing the listener to take a trip South of Heaven. I had to say that the lyrics that I did decipher didn’t seem silly or rehashes of things that we have heard in bands like Dimmu Borgir and others who fall along similar lines. I felt that this allowed their fans to keep the band and their image in a more serious tone which I am sure is what they wanted to have happen in the first place. Let’s face it some Black Metal type lyrics can be really banal at times and with an image like this being portrayed you want to not have this be the case. This was really good stuff and merits some attention for any fan of not only classic Speed Metal but also those who enjoy just a little more darker depth to their Metal.

Track Listing:
1. Infernal Flame Of Destruction
2. Evocation Of The Flesh
3. Gates Of Damnation
4. Claws Of Death
5. Storm Of The Reaper
6. Envoy Of Lucifer
7. Evil Is Eternal
8. Raging Flames
9. Belial’s Prey
10. No More Life

Official Website: http://hem.bredband.net/autopsy/sidorna_/index2.html
Official Website: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Nifelheim

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