Nargaroth - Spectral Visions Of Mental Warfare
No Colours Records
Ambient, Black Metal
8 songs (58:10)
Release year: 2011
No Colours Records
Reviewed by Goat

When he’s not offending black metal purists by pretending Nargaroth is an older project than it is, appearing on daytime tv or masturbating onto his band merchandise, Kanwulf releases albums, and the latest full-length from this most controversial of projects is worthy of all ears. It’s unusual for the band in that it moves away from the raw, folky harshness of previous albums and towards a calm, almost mellow ambience. Much influence is taken from Burzum, to the point where you wonder if Kanwulf even listens to any other band! Yet so well are these influences wielded that you find yourself not minding, relaxing with the album and allowing it to wash over you. I doubt this would wake a sleeping infant at any point – a good thing for an ambient album! Spectral Visions... moves slowly and subtly, making you like it despite your obvious misgivings.

Those who dislike keyboard ambience should steer well clear, as the majority of the tracks on the album are so. It’s quality stuff, however. Take Diving Among The Daughters Of The Sea as an example, a watery ambient piece that will leave you cold the first time you hear it, but compels you into a hypnotic stupor on subsequent attempts. Purists will be offended by the new-age keyboards, but it’s nothing that Varg hasn’t done himself. Of course, by the time the near-techno Journey Through My Cosmic Cells (The Negation Of God) rolls around, said purists will be even more offended. Yet unlike, say, Morbid Angel, Kanwulf uses these elements in line with the other music on the album, making a hypnotic landscape that’s all the more arresting for its ten-minute length. I question whether it was necessary on an album that runs at just under an hour (the vinyl version has another five songs) and am very tempted to label it as filler – but it easily fits in with the black metal pieces stylistically, and you’ll find yourself listening to it for far longer than you intend to.

And what of said black metal itself? Well, it’s in the minority, but it’s there. After the six minute opener Odin's Weeping for Jördh (minimalist keyboards with backing raven caws and rainfall, worth mentioning as the best ambient piece on the album) we move naturally into An Indifferent Cold In The Womb Of Eve with slow, mournful keyboard plonking melody atop the other instruments. It’s clearly based on the Dunkelheit formula (and obviously isn’t as good) but in terms of atmosphere and achieving what it sets out to do, the track is a rare killer. That’s not to say that the album lacks killing tracks, just that it struggles to give any one moment of the album that sit-up-and-gasp effect that the best black metal has. A Whisper Under The Bark Of Old Trees is a slow, funeral march with almost Jesu-esque riffs, a steady background beat the skeleton beneath the cobweb-covered flesh, indistinct snarling shrieks from Kanwulf and a sampled bit of Germanic angst as a man rants and raves emotionally adding to the effect. The title track and the closing March Of The Tyrants are pretty much repetitions of what you’ve already heard, making it hard to really praise this album in the end. It’s hard to hate, but equally hard to love – Kanwulf moving from dividing opinion to muddling it? Worth a go if you like Burzum’s keyboard interludes, in any case.

Killing Songs :
An Indifferent Cold In The Womb Of Eve, Diving Among The Daughters Of The Sea, A Whisper Under The Bark Of Old Trees
Goat quoted 71 / 100
Other albums by Nargaroth that we have reviewed:
Nargaroth - Prosatanica Shooting Angels reviewed by Daniel and quoted 63 / 100
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