Envoy of Lucifer Review
First off, let me say the obvious: if you like the previous Nifelheim albums, you will like this one too, as do I. If you dug the others, here’s another for you. That said, I will admit to being a bit disappointed.
Let me tell you why I’m not totally thrilled with this one. Nifelheim, like Motorhead or Inquisition, is a band that sets and stays its course, so there is no cause for alarm for the shit and puke-smeared Satanic legionaries that follow this dirty little band from Sweden, yet each of Nifelheim’s previous studio efforts served the lord Mr. Satan in a slightly different way. The eponymous debut was the balls-out crazy bonkers Nifelheim album with no finesse. The second album, Devil’s Force, was the first that broadly exhibited the Twins’ (Hellbutcher & Tyrant) fascination with Iron Maiden; they structured their creepy, dirty black thrash in more intricate Harris-style arrangements with timing changes, twin leads, open spots, etc. (albeit all ugly, nasty, and tortured). The album that followed was largely (and correctly) considered their best: Servants of Darkness. SoD had a few bonkers tunes and then shitloads of creepy, more memorable material than previously proffered by the band - still nuts, vomitblackthrash Nifelheim, but bigger, scarier, and more thought out.
That brings us to "Envoy of Lucifer", which seems largely to be in the style of the first album's full-on bonkers black thrash with a couple of exceptions. “Gates of Damnation” has a cool proggy break (2:20) and the King Crimson chords lodged in “Fuck Off” also stand out as a something strange, as does that song’s deep pocket chorus (the only open section to rival the SoD developments). And there’s a fun nod to Iron Maiden’s “No More Lies” in the chorus of the similarly-titled “No More Life”. With these and a handful of other exceptions, the jam at the end of the album and the great bass lines/harmonies in “Storm of the Reaper”, this is a manic, chaotic record, the coldest recording they’ve done, especially when set against the warmth of the previous two, sounding almost as caustic as an Impiety record, which is not a compliment.
The drummer doesn't help things. He regularly chases the songs and occasionally plays things that have no bearing on the actual tempo (the blast in the title cut is troubled and the ride in “Raging Flame” is from another planet), sometimes pushing this release into war metal territory of reined abstraction. All in all, it holds together, but would be more punishing and more exciting if the band were more unified. Kind of like Trym’s performance on Anthems to the Welkin at Dusk, the drums fit into the space, but never seem as if they are the skeleton or motor of the song.
Let me say this again: I enjoy this record, but when considering the more singular/repetitive compositions, the colder/less appealing sonics and the troubled drumming, I know that when I’m in the mood for Swedish vomitblackthrashfilth, this is the album of Nifelheim’s I will reach for least often.
Neophytes are recommended to begin with their stellar Servants of Darkness and work backwards until you arrive here, covered in the tarry, fetid shit of Beelzebub.