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Nifelheim
Envoy of Lucifer

Company: Regain Records
Release: 2007
Reviewer: Etiam
Genre: Black

  • Genre-defining in the utmost sense



  • In today's resurgent scene, Nifelheim's story is not new: a second wave black metal band that disappeared after amassing a respectable, if somewhat overlooked catalogue, and now makes a triumphant return with a new LP, 'Envoy of Lucifer'. The band is still led by Hellbutcher and Tyrant, the co-founding Gustavsson twins, who continue to write nearly all the band's material, while new members have been recruited to help them strut their stuff. On guitars are the axe-men of Necrophobic (Johan and Sebastian), and on drums is Peter Stjärnvind, member of divers other projects and here referred to as 'Insulter of Jesus Christ!'. (As it happens, his moniker is a song title of Damnation's, a black metal project of his with the equally accomplished Richard Cabeza. Their 2004 'Destructo Evangeli' album is a throwback riot.)

    These next-decade comeback efforts make for a nice spread in the print rags, but rarely do they result in relevant new music. Audiences catch up to the trick, the star power fades, and eventually the band is old news--again. In Nifelheim's case, though, they never had too illustrious a legacy to begin with, so the success of 'Envoy of Lucifer' would have to come entirely on its own merit, and it is here that their story takes off.

    Though far from groundbreaking, 'Envoy of Lucifer' is genre-defining in the utmost sense, and after twenty years in the business, the Gustavsson twins are more on-point than ever. Brandishing the gauche monikers and musicians' chops with equal vigor, 'Envoy of Lucifer' brings us a refreshed and even wry Nifelheim that has learned to balance cult credibility with downright good songwriting. In the time-honored Swedish way, the twins churn out engaging hooks that waver between the quaint and insidious with classic cadences and tri-tone riffing. Sebastian's lead guitar is comparatively insouciant, passingly intoned, and his soloing can invokes Ice Dale, Steve Jones, and your favorite sweep-and-shredmaster with equal ease. At the fore is Hellbutcher, whose gravely voice (occasionally breaking into a gurgle) sounds a bit older for wear but no less vile or rhythmically keen.

    Compared to the band's older work, 'Envoy of Lucifer' is generally a cool affair, with on a few tracks that they clash and bang like old Dissection (the title track being one of them). These arrangements are more mid-tempo and basic, adhering to the typical intro-verse-chorus-verse-bridge formula, and although these are often warning signs of a band that's mentally checked out, Nifelheim circumvent stagnation with a handful of tricks. Firstly, the analog production, which contributes to the stripped-down, vintage atmosphere. The gain crackles but doesn't suffocate, and we can actually hear the drums pushing air. With more frenetic arrangements, this openness would become muddy, and then obscure the embellishments that are 'Envoy of Lucifer's other hidden ace. Whether it be through the resonant baritone slipped into 'Claws of Death', the well-placed guitar slides throughout, or the self-consciously long grunt in 'Evil is Forever', nearly every track has a quirk that identifies and distinguishes it. Most are simple, some hardly even noticeable, and all allow help to achieve the most evocative possible result from the simplest of components.

    Some obstinate orthodox fans may be concerned with how Nifelheim have moved on from their rudimentary roots, where stuttering drum grinds and chopping tremolo riffs were the order of the day. But these changes only enhance what was already there--natural grooves and undercurrent of humor--and are what make 'Envoy of Lucifer' stand out in a somber crowd. So, even though this 'Envoy...' will feel too flippant to some, the rest of us should enjoy it as a salacious delight.


    Maximum Metal Rating Legend - Click for Full Details
    5 Excellent - Buy it and say a prayer to the metal gods that you were tuned on to this masterpiece. A classic.
    4-4.5 Great - Almost perfect records but there's probably a clunker or a lacking somewhere to keep it from perfection. You won't feel bad about dropping some bones on these.
    3.5 Good - Most of the record is good, but there may be some filler. This is the OK range where you'd search for the record on sale or used.
    3 Average - Some good songs, some bad ones at about a half/half ratio. Could show skills but be dull overall. Redeeming qualities for indy bands are effort and passion. Majors that don't try or suck outright end up here.
    2-2.5 Fair - Worth a listen, but best obtained by collectors. There is much better metal out there.
    1-1.5 Bad - Major problems with music, lyrics, production, etc.
    0 Terrible or an otherwise waste of your life and time.

    Note: Reviews are graded from 0-5, anything higher or not showing is from our old style. Scores, however, do not reveal the important features. The written review that accompanies the ratings is the best source of information regarding the music on our site. Reviewing is opinionated, not a qualitative science, so scores are personal to the reviewer and could reflect anything from being technically brilliant to gloriously cheesy fun.

    Demos and independent releases get some slack since the bands are often spent broke supporting themselves and trying to improve. Major releases usually have big financial backing, so they may be judged by a heavier hand. All scores can be eventually adjusted up or down by comparison of subsequent releases by the same band. We attempt to keep biases out of reviews and be advocates of the consumer without the undo influence of any band, label, management, promoter, etc.

    The best way to determine how much you may like certain music is to listen to it yourself.



    ALL FULL REVIEWS FOR: NIFELHEIM
    CD
    TITLE BAND
    DOR
    REVIEWER DATE
    Envoy of LuciferNifelheim
    2007
    Etiam11/21/2008


    ALL SUMMARY REVIEWS FOR: NIFELHEIM
    TITLE BAND
    DOR
    REVIEWER DATE
    Devil's ForceNifelheim
    2009
    Etiam4/26/2012
    NifelheimNifelheim
    2009
    Etiam6/22/2011


    ALL INTERVIEWS FOR: NIFELHEIM
    INTERVIEW BAND INTERVIEWER DATE


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