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Nazxul - Irkalla

Nazxul
Irkalla
by Ian Yeara at 11 June 2021, 7:52 AM

Yet another black metal band I’ve never heard of, looking back in the band’s history this is their first full length album since 2009, though it’s only about 31 minutes long. The band is described mostly as a symphonic black metal though it’s certainly not what I typically think of with that moniker. The black metal itself sounds more like your average band worshipping at the alter of second wave black metal. The production sounds dirty and muddled, which is not necessarily a bad thing, it just really reminds me of production on black metal albums in the early to mid 90s. The music itself is about as straightforward and to the point as it gets, four songs, 31 minutes of blast beats and riffs punching you in the face. There’s not much variety at all in the songwriting, but that's where the short length of the album helps. I’m not going to lie, this album didn’t exactly impress me, but maybe I’m just jaded from the amount of new black metal promos I get every year. It’s not exactly impressive, but it’s a solid, no nonsense slab of black metal. I’m usually a bigger fan of progressive and actually symphonic black metal, so maybe my expectations were raised by the genre label, but I digress.

"Divine Death" starts off well enough with some beautiful ominous piano playing, sadly there isn’t more piano on the rest of the album that I noticed, but it makes for a nice intro and build up. Then of course is the obligatory explosion of riffs. I swear someday I’m going to sit down and codify my own version of black metal songwriting structure and it’s going to be glorious. The riffs are fantastic and everything sounds great, but I can’t help but not be impressed with vocal lines, for one thing they’re completely buried in the mix, and for another there’s nothing memorable, like honestly I feel like the vocals could have just been left out and it wouldn’t make much of a difference. It’s almost like the vocalist is keeping up a constant whispering chant underneath the entire album and while it works in some places, in others I found it distracting and annoying. The song that stands head and shoulders above the rest however was "Stygian." This song more than the others embraces the chaotic atonality I would expect from this kind of black metal and truly sounds like madness. There’s a little more symphonic presence in this song as well, even if it’s mostly in the background it lends an amount of gravitas I felt was missing from the rest of the album.

It’s such a short album, I feel like I have little to really discuss further. My biggest problem is that the songs really are quite samey, and unless you plan on listening to the whole album all the way through there’s not much point. There’s just nothing unique about this album. I went back and listened to their 2009 album Iconoclast and that album actually did some really cool stuff with it’s symphonic elements and right away I was able to differentiate the songs without looking to see if I had moved on to the next song. This album is about as cookie cutter as this kind of 90s black metal worship goes and unless you just can’t get enough of straightforward no nonsense black metal I’d say this is kind of a waste of time personally. There’s just so much good metal out there, and far more interesting and experimental black metal. That being said I’m sure there’s plenty of black metal fans who’ll tell me I’m crazy. Maybe check it out and decide for yourself.

Songwriting: 7
Musicianship: 8
Memorability: 5
Production: 7

3 Star Rating

Tracklist:
1. Divine Death
2. Rising Storm
3. Inferno
4. Stygian
Lineup:
Wraith - Bass, Guitars, Keyboards
Lachlan Mitchell - Keyboards, Guitars
Dalibor Backović - Vocals, Bass
Luke Mills - Vocals, Guitars
Yonn McLaughlin - Drums 
Record Label: Seance Records
     


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