1. Hellebarn 2. Sturm der Katharsis 3. Hetzjagd in Palästina 4. Westwall 5. Fäden des Schicksals 6. Protokoll einer Folter 7. Meuterei
Although Nagelfar’s ‘Virus West’ has become a relatively well-recognized name since its 2001 release, its listening audience has remained fairly small, and most who read the band’s name are still likely to chalk it up as a misspelling of Naglfar. However, with the past years’ success of Nagelfar-alumnus Alexander Von Meilenwald (in his solo project, The Ruins of Beverast), ‘Virus West’ has been reissued and may finally gain the widespread appreciation it deserves.
As such, many fans likely are coming back to Nagelfar by way of The Ruins of Beverast, which will yield mixed results. Experience with The Ruins will make it easier to appreciate the expansive and oppressive composition of ‘Virus West’, but may also inspire some preconceptions that are bound to be unfulfilled. Although most of The Ruins’s traits can be traced directly back to Nagelfar, the two are still dissimilar in a number of ways. Where The Ruins are a tumultuous ride—on ‘Unlock the Shrine’ almost like a macabre carnival—Nagelfar is relentlessly dour. ‘Virus West’ does feature many changes in tempo and texture, but it still drives towards a direct conclusion, unlike the nebulous atmosphere of The Ruins, and few catchy leads emerge to define the album and easily capture its character.
Still, ‘Virus West’ is still one of the more original black metal albums of the early 2000’s and has much to appreciate. Although Nagelfar’s brand of innovation is generally more subtle than the avant-garde experimentation in today’s scene, it is no less distinctive. Long cited as one of the few rivals to old Norway, Germany’s noted black metal scene is fully encapsulated on ‘Virus West’, thorny and strangely alluring.
Much of ‘Virus West’ is comprised of familiar elements—blasting drums, tremolo guitars, patent black metal vocal—while a smattering of refined keyboards complete the atmosphere, either haunting or mockingly majestic. And the use of those elements, though familiar, never sounds staid or too repetitive, despite the many long song lengths. ‘Virus West’, much like The Ruins’s albums would in later years, takes those familiar elements and channels through them an epic, droning gloom. While that description may at first sound like a surplus of adjectives, the result it describes is as
For fans of black metal from The Ruins of Beverast to Endstille to Leviathan and the purely inexplicable beyond, ‘Virus West’ remains compelling. ‘Virus West’ arrived at time when many bands of the 90’s black metal explosion were stagnating and the new wave of progress was far from mature. Heralding the age to come, Nagelfar had the uncanny ability to combine the pertinent elements of both eras on ‘Virus West’, and the result is as relevant and remarkable today as it was then.
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