July 28, 2023

Nifelheim - Devil's Force (1998)

Country: Sweden
Language: English
Genre: Black Metal
Label Number: NR022

© 1998 Necropolis Records
While many of the Norwegian black metal bands of the early 1990s were taking themselves so seriously that heinous acts of murder, church burnings, and the like wound up stealing more headlines than their actual music, Sweden's Nifelheim were shrewdly still treating the genre's Satanic silliness with the appropriate tongue-in-cheek tone. On the surface, this was illustrated by their cartoonish album covers and traditional black metal "uniform," consisting of the necessary leather and spikes, bullet belts, pentagrams, and inverted crucifixes. While musically the group was celebrating the formative black metal rudiments parlayed by Venom and early Bathory, as well as the subsequent thrash-infused Brazilian heretics, such as Sarcófago and Vulcano -- the exact opposite direction, in other words, as the new underworld order being advanced by their often avant-garde Norwegian counterparts. Nifelheim's eponymous LP had clearly established this agenda in 1994, and one would have been foolish to expect the Gustavsson brothers (vocalist Hellbutcher and bassist Tyrant) to shift gears with 1997's Devil's Force, which predictably delivered another batch of unselfconsciously retro, but consistently entertaining blackened thrash. Naturally, drummer Demon's predominantly supersonic beats pushed the pace throughout (see particularly frenzied assaults like "Deathstrike from Hell" and "Hellish Blasphemy"); but with the help of the stellar session work provided by guitarists Jon Nödtveidt and John Zwetsloot -- both of the legendary Dissection -- even more impressive standouts like "The Final Slaughter," "Desecration of the Dead," and "Satanic Mass" boasted an assortment of imaginative melodic counterpoint licks and face-shredding solos, worthy of envy from any extreme metal band. To each his own, though, and there's no denying that Nifelheim's purist old-school methods as heard on Devil's Force were a hell of a lot more fun. [Reissued in 2009 by Regain Records, Devil's Force was spruced up with expanded artwork, enthusiastic liner notes from legendary Slayer Zine editor, Metallion, and a bonus cover of Vulcano's "Witches Sabbath" that really elucidates Nifelheim's inspirational roots.]

 tags: nifelhiem, devils force, 1998, flac,


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