Swedish melodic black metallers Naglfar release their 7th full length studio album since their inception in 1992. Cerecloth is their first release since 2012’s Téras and since then the band has seen a change in bassist and drummer with new bassist Alex Friberg and session drummer Efraim Juntunen joining their ranks for this release.
Naglfar are renowned as one of the forerunners of the melodic black metal style and this album is no exception to their prowess. Cerecloth is full of riffs and melodies which are simultaneously catchy and sinister sounding, with Kristoffer W. Olivius’s powerful black metal screams on top to heighten the evil atmosphere.
The band are also known to combine elements of melodeath into their music, and there is certainly a noticeable melodeath sensibility to some of the guitar melodies from guitarists Andreas Nilsson and Marcus E. Norman on this album e.g. on ‘Cry of the Serafim’ and ‘The Dagger in Creation’. The former is also quite Viking metal sounding in its lead guitar melody. However, there is also plenty of tremolo guitar playing typical to black metal, and the two styles are combined in an even blend. One of the guitar parts in ‘Like Poison for the Soul’, almost sounds more like an organ at one point, which gives a dramatic feel, as does the atmospheric backing choir featured at the start of this track.
The album is for the most part consistently heavy and fast paced and could perhaps have benefitted from being a little more dynamic e.g. by adding some more slower, quieter sections to build atmosphere and act as a palate cleanser between songs. The only example of notable length where something like this has been done is the intro to ‘Necronaut’ which has quite a slow build-up: beginning with a melodeath sounding solo guitar melody and adding other instruments and then vocals before speeding up.
The album and song title ‘Cerecloth’ refers to the waxed cloth used for wrapping a corpse, and unsurprisingly the lyrical themes of death and burial occur frequently on this release: guitarist Andreas Nilsson describes the lyrical themes as “the usual death and destruction”. However, the lyrics are cleverly crafted and also seem to visit other topics such as: craving solitude (‘Like Poison for the Soul’), depression (‘Vortex of Negativity’) and criticising religion (‘The Sanguine Tide Unleashed’); altogether making for a darkly introspective and nihilistic listen.
Overall, this is a solid release with plenty of memorable moments, likely to appeal not just to fans of melodic black metal but also some melodeath fans looking to branch out into the realms of black metal.
Would recommend for fans of: Necrophobic, Dissection, Sacramentum, Watain, Marduk