Nattverd - Styggdom
Osmose Productions
Black Metal
8 songs (56:32)
Release year: 2020
Bandcamp, Osmose Productions
Reviewed by Goat

Let's see in the new year, and decade, of music reviewing with a bang! Black metal from Bergen, Norway has its own style and charm, and Nattverd are a shining example. Defiantly old-school and traditional, with a touch of rocking glee, something like older Carpathian Forest as well as the obvious Darkthrone influence, Styggdom is a fine depiction of darkness. And it's a more varied album than you'd expect; just look at how the slower, more atmospheric sections in the doom-tinted Dragsvoll sit comfortably alongside blasting fury. Nattverd are on their second full-length here and have only been active for two years, but they're already terrific at writing black metal songs that catch your ear as well as exercise your neck. Touches like the lengthy synth introduction to Skoddeskot or the eerie chanting that opens the downright black 'n' roll chaos of Gamle Erik are compelling rather than dull, and enhance the album's atmospheric impact.

And Nattverd manage to make give each member some way to stand out, whether it's the skilful (session) drumming of AntiChristian (also of Tsjuder and terrific grinders Beaten to Death) which is often beyond than mere blasts and always interesting, to guitarists Atyr and Ormr, providing both textural atmosphere and more upfront riffing (aggressive opener Slakt dem, der de loeper hoedeloese rundt baalet a great example, excellent at drawing out the tension and not lessening in intensity even at nearly eight minutes long). The bass is audible thanks to a raw but fitting production and gets moments to shine, on Hedninger av en svart verden especially, and although vocalist Serpentr's dry snarl is probably the least compelling aspect of the band's sound on first listens, it more than fits the music.

It's hard to criticise Styggdom as it does exactly what it sets out to do; reproduce old-school Norwegian black metal faithfully and with skill. Even Heksebrann doesn't bore despite being over nine minutes long, switching from melodic trilling to catchy groove, although the sampled talking could have been left out. Yet it doesn't actually detract from the song and provides a little more individuality that helps the song stand out and the album become more interesting as a whole. Nothing here will surprise or shock those used to traditional black metal - and that is as much of the appeal as anything. Sure, black metal that pushes the boundaries is always fascinating, but black metal that follows the old ways will always draw in those that love the genre for itself. And you can tell Nattverd love black metal as much as those that listen to them, if not more. 2019 was a tremendous year for black metal, and already 2020 is rewarding us!

Killing Songs :
Dragsvoll, Skoddeskot, Gamle Erik
Goat quoted 80 / 100
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