Naer Mataron - River at Dash Scalding
Black Lotus Records
Black Metal
10 songs (54'59")
Release year: 2003
Naer Mataron, Black Lotus
Reviewed by Alex

I need to be totally honest here. If the label didn’t send me this CD, I doubt I would be writing this review right now. It is not like Naer Mataron is a household name, but apparently Black Lotus has a lot of respect and faith for these guys releasing their third album.

You wouldn’t say it from the title, River at Dash Scalding, but there is something to be said about Naer Mataron. These Greeks understand the tradition of Scandinavian keyboard free, yet epic in sound, black metal. This is evident from the anti-single God, glorification of ancient Europe lyrics to the incessant grating speed to the length and number of nail spikes on the musicians’ wristbands. In other words, both musical and image side (corpsepaint and all) are here – this is unquestionably black metal, to its very core.

War drums and thunder effects of the intro As the Clouds of War Gather set the mood, but the following song The Continuity of Land and Blood left me unimpressed. The follower, The Great Meridian Tide, makes up for it greatly and is easily the best song on the album. Super fast guitar riffs weave epic melody. It is buried underneath the riffs and that makes you keep your attention. Drumming is fast, but it is not a constant blastbeat, and some of the fills are very memorable. Since the song is long and repetitive in structure (another characteristic of old school black metal), I was almost waiting for some of the segments to repeat themselves. Vocalist/guitarist Morpheas vocals are more of a throaty scream than a yelping shriek. You still don’t understand a damn word that comes out of his mouth, but it is not a constant banshee screech. The sum of overall parts is not as raw as Darkthrone, not as crazy as Limbonic Art and does not have experimentation of Emperor or mid-era Arcturus. It is somewhat closer to Immortal, but definitely not as massive or polished. In fact, I struggled for comparison until I read in the booklet how the band was influenced by Ved Buens Ende, a Norwegian band I have never heard. Naer Mataron even covers The Plunderer, one of the Ved Buens Ende songs.

The rest of the songs on the album are similar in nature, but only The Life and Death of Europa (Part I. Cosmogonia) with its thrashy riffs and glorious lead approaches the quality of The Great Meridian Tide. All tracks are consistently epic, heroic, dark battle songs that reflect Nordic spirit, but this consistency clearly borders on repetitiveness. Cello intro of Salvatores Dei is just that, an intro, and Part II Kalki The Avenger – Lightning, and And the Sun are greatly underdeveloped. Sirtaki (national Greek dance) melody touch is interesting on Revolt Against the Modern World.

There is something to be said about the production on River at Dash Scalding. Usually, I will devote one sentence in my review to this aspect of the album. Yet, I have a bone to pick in this regard with Naer Mataron. It is OK to bury the vocals deep into the mix, and highlight the riffing. Bassist Kaiadas seems to write or co-write just about every song on the album, but bass sound is nowhere to be heard. Worst of all though are the drums. Newcomer Warhead is no Horgh of Immortal. Still, if given the stage he could propel the album to bigger heights. Instead of massive The Abyss Studio drumming we hear this tinny itty bitty knocking. Worse yet are the cymbals. If you hold a large thin steel sheet and start waiving it in the air, such movement would already create some hissing sound. Now, if you hit it with a stick, the hiss would be enormous. The latter is exactly how the cymbals sound on River at Dash Scalding. I couldn’t even adjust my treble so it would be tolerable. If I put it too low, the hiss would be gone, but the whole sound would not be sharp. At higher treble levels the cymbal hiss would be so permeating, it was distracting. I am not against raw production of Black Metal albums. Raw production keeps the atmosphere the way artists wanted it to be reflected. However, these are musical instruments that are being used, and they, when tortured on the mixing board, don’t yield a listenable result. All in all, the production holds Naer Mataron back significantly.

I enjoyed greatly Naer Mataron’s sense of covert undercurrent melody and their true Black Metal attitude. However, the overrepetitiveness and very poor production is responsible for point deduction here.

Killing Songs :
The Great Meridian Tide, The Life and Death of Europa Part I - Cosmogonia
Alex quoted 65 / 100
Other albums by Naer Mataron that we have reviewed:
Naer Mataron - Praetorians reviewed by Goat and quoted 75 / 100
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