Nidingr – “The High Heat Licks Against Heaven” (Indie Recordings)
Right from their name derived from a Nordic slur, this Norwegian black / death metal (super) group deliver their 4th album drenched in Norse mythology. Formed back in the early 90s by guitarist Teloch (Mayhem, Gorgoroth, God Seed, Myrkur), he is joined here by SIR (Gaahls Wyrd, Trelldom, God Seed) on bass, Cpt. Estrella Grasa on vocals and Myrvoll on drums, along with guests Destructhor (Myrkskog, Morbid Angel), Garm (Ulver, Arcturus, Borknagar) and Myrkur – quite a stellar line up I’m sure you’ll agree! Matching the pedigree cast are 10 equally rich songs that took 2 years to compose, inspirationally sourced from old English translations of the older and younger Edda in the 18th century that talked of death, the afterlife, war and of course, the gods. With separate writing of the lyrics to that of forging the music, there is a huge Nordic atmosphere across the entire album, with even theatrical spoken words added to truly bring out that other worldly effect, all brought together mesmerizingly by the talents of the musicians here. Songs like ‘Surtur’ require a burns warning from its savage, blast beat drumming and raw, slide riffing, while the slow ‘Ash Yggdrasil’ adds ambient contrast thanks to its powerfully atmospheric passages and plenty of dark, slithering melodies, the melancholic presence of which only grows as the power is added back in. ‘The Ballad Of Hamther’ is a galloping Viking piece resplendent with cold, clanging melodies and most of all, a catchy death metal groove reminiscent of Sacred Reich propelled by Myrvoll’s double bass drum rolls. The vocals throughout all the songs are incredible and Cpt. Estrella Grasa deserves an award for his varied but evolving styles in keeping to the mood of each track. Along with Mykur’s femme siren vocals their expression together brings back to life the great and classical themes here. Epitomizing this is the culmination of ‘Naglfar Is Loosed’ where Grasa’s anguished drawls couldn’t be more superbly contrasted by Myrkur’s heavenly wails, Teloch’s guitar cascading Nordic melodies all the while like a flowing waterfall – brilliant. Nidingr may take their time to put out albums given their other projects but when they do, its certainly worth the wait as this album has it all, the complete package.