After the fun and frolics of the festive season, the start of January is always something of a return to reality. Cold weather, dark mornings and the rain gods working overtime. Still, it puts you in the mood for a spot of dark, atmospheric Black Metal.
With this in mind there was only one name in the never-decreasing pile of stuff to review here at CB, ’tis the season to listen to Nidingr !!!
We first came across Nidingr a couple of years ago at Hellfest in sunny Clisson, and we were sufficiently impressed that the arrival of this, their fourth full length album, caught our attention. If you’re not familiar with the band, you may be familiar with their six-string demon, a certain Teloch from black metal gods Mayhem.
Throw in guest appearances from the likes of Destructhor and you’ve certainly got the possibility of Black Metal greatness, so does The High Heat Licks Against Heaven deliver?
Let’s find out.
Or you can skip to the end where I basically say “yes, yes it does”.
This is no slow burning, atmosphere by numbers effort which has become typical of the genre. Not here instead things take off right from the off, with the first frantic notes of Hangagud heralding a swirling, sweeping maelstrom of brutality. Nidingr can do flat out mayhem as well as anyone, but they can also slow things down and even experiment with that melody stuff from time to time. They do this with The Ballad Of Hamther (OK, they’re taking the term Ballad very loosely), and the end result is a roller coaster rides of light and shade which had me hitting repeat a couple of times before I let it go and moved on.
The tempo drops another couple of times, with Gleipnir seeing the band hitting a Doom vein which they exploit for a good 5 minutes while you catch your breath before Sol Taker resumes the aural offensive.
Thematically, as you’d probably expect, it’s Norse mythology-a-go-go. Surely they have to run out of gods eventually. Here inspiration is drawn (apparently) from the younger and older Edda, an 18th century tome which has provided Nidingr with rich pickings. Spoken word parts add extra texture where needed, and give the whole thing a really cool theatrical feel, like the soundtrack to an as yet unmade mythological horror film.
It’s not totally relentless though, things go all slow, heavy and epic again with the album closer Naglfar Is Loosed on your unsuspecting ears. It’s a great way to draw proceedings to a close and leaves you with something slightly different ringing in your ears as you reach, again, for the repeat button.
If this is anything to go by then 2017 should be another epic year for aficionados of all things dark, and if we get a load as good as this then in this particular corner of CackBlabbath we’ll be quite happy.
Well, as happy as we’re allowed to be listening to Black Metal.