Nargaroth

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Amarok

Nargaroth - Amarok ©2000 No Colours
1. Herbstleyd
2. Black Spell Of Destruction
3. Shall We Begin
4. Into The Void
5. Amarok - Zorn Des Lammes Part II
6. As The Stars Took Me With'em

Nargaroth, a project who has had its moments of great music, is one of those outfits that has far more hype and controversy than good music. Early on, René Wagner, the sole proprietor of Nargaroth, trotted out claims that he started the band in 1989, many years before he actually did. Evidentally he felt he had to establish some sort of underground, "I peed on this hallowed territory first" credibility. One might be curious why Wagner would go to such lengths to create a fictional background for his band, but a lot of those questions are cleared up when listening to Amarok, a compilation of early tracks from demos and promo releases. Nargaroth simply wasn't very good in its earliest days in the late 90s.

Black metal has always had a tendency for amateur efforts. But there's a difference between a talented band who aren't professional and someone who comes across as amateurish. Nargaroth falls a bit into the latter category. At best, the song on Amarok sound like a guy who listened to a lot of Burzum and similarly sounding bands and then copied what they did without bothering to inject a single iota of personal character or individuality. The songwriting is pedestrian at best. Actually, in the case of the twenty-two minute "Amarok - Zorn Des Lammes Part II", we find Wagner trying to stretch a two minute song idea out far beyond its capabilities. In fact, about twelve minutes in I realized he'd been repeating himself over and over for that duration and was quite sorry to see there was till another ten minutes to endure. It's utterly tedious. Not scary, threatening, misanthropic or hateful. Just tedious.

Even in the world of raw black metal, this is a truly underdeveloped collection of songs. It's pretty easy to see why Wagner would invent stories about his band's background. That diverted attention away from the fact he wasn't very good at this point in the band's existence.

Review by John Chedsey

Review date: 10/2011

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Black Metal Ist Krieg (A Dedication Monument)

Nargaroth - Black Metal Ist Krieg (A Dedication Monument) ©2001 No Colours
1. Introduction
2. Black Metal Ist Krieg
3. Far Beyond The Stars
4. Seven Tears Are Flowing To The River
5. I Burn For You
6. The Day Burzum Killed Mayhem
7. Pisen Pro Satana
8. Amarok - Zorn Des Lammes III
9. Erik, May You Rape The Angels
10. The Gates Of Eternity
11. Possessed By Black Fucking Metal

The biggest problem with black metal today is that either you get bands trying so hard to project an image that it's nothing more than a prefabricated gimmick or you get earnest bands who simply don't have the musical goods to pull of a decent record. The sad thing is that the raw end of black metal is very similar to punk in that all it takes is some passion, some basic music skills and the determination to get what's inside your head onto tape. Quite a few bands seem to stumble over that particular step.

Nargaroth, on the other hand, provides us with a kick in the pants that any fan of raw black metal needs.

Black Metal Ist Krieg (A Dedication Monument) is, as the title implies, a bit of a tribute to underground black metal throughout the years. Mixing obscure cover songs with his own material, Nargaroth's Kanwulf comes up with a lengthy album that does nothing but make one want to find his arsonist kit and hit up any small town in the Bible Belt. All the typical elements of raw black metal are in abundance here, from the documentation styled recording (as opposed to "producing) to the stylistic influences that can be heard. Kanwulf's music is often reminscient of Burzum's early work and the commonalities can be seen more often as a tip of the hat rather than an outright thievery of ideas. Nargaroth, which features guest musicians from Moonblood and Maniac Butcher for this release, simply excels at this thing. The CD offers a great amount of variety, from repetitious epics like the excellent "Seven Tears are Flowing to the River" to all-out blast fests such as the title track. Kanwulf's guitar playing is quite creative, despite working within the idiom of black metal. He even sneaks in amusing samples, such as the short bit from Resevoir Dogs that introduces the blistering (no pun intended) "I Burn for You". The musicianship is very solid throughout, offering loose, fluid playing as opposed to either clunky amateurish attempts or overly polished glitzy stuff.

Nargaroth is one of the very few current black metal bands that completely impresses the hell out of me. His affection towards the underground black metal scene comes across as quite genuine and his ability to create music inspired by his favorite bands that darn near outshines them is very spiffy indeed.

Review by John Chedsey

Review date: 03/2003

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Spectral Visions of Mental Warfare

Nargaroth - Spectral Visions of Mental Warfare ©2011 No Colours
1. Odin's Weeping for Jördh
2. An Indifferent Cold in the Womb of Eve
3. Diving Among the Daughters of the Sea
4. Odin's Weeping for Jördh - Part II
5. Journey Through My Cosmic Cells (The Negation of God)
6. A Whisper Underneath the Bark of Old Trees
7. Spectral Visions of Mental Warfare
8. March of the Tyrants

I'm starting to suspect that Nargaroth founder Kanwulf has been more dedicated to trolling the black metal community than actually providing genuine, creative material. Although from time to time Nargaroth has written and recorded some outstanding songs, the general overall quality of the catalogue is spotty at best. Considering Kanwulf's tendency to generate misinformation about the origins of the band, it's entirely possible he's been out to pull the black metal collective leg all along.

I bring up the trolling aspect because if he actually took the music on Spectral Visions of Mental Warfare seriously, then he's a rather pretentious mofo who really needs a smack upside head for releasing such tedious music. The highly wordy song titles alone suggest that yes, he is having a laugh at someone somewhere, but it's hard to be absolutely sure without actually getting him drunk to the point where he admits his real motivations behind Nargaroth.

This album is a generally mediocre release which, to great tragedy, mostly dwells in the truly awful realm of "ambient black metal". That particular wretched substyle is where musicians who generally shriek like goblins and play treble guitar leads a lot sit down at their Casio keyboards and churn out dismally uncreative "mood pieces" that somehow get embraced by at least a subset of the black metal fanbase. Mortiis made a career of it until he finally decided goth was the way to go. In some cases, it's obvious Nargaroth was out to ape Burzum's Filosofem era ("An Indifferent Cold in the Womb of Eve") but at other times he seems to be channeling the dark side of Jean Michel Jarre. Oxygene, this is not. At its best, Spectral Visions of Mental Warfare almost provides some passable atmospheric black metal on a couple songs, but by the time my ears got to them, I was truly annoyed at the level of silliness with the clumsy stabs at ambience.

Much of Nargaroth's output has been hit or miss throughout Kanwulf's career and frankly this is a miss. If he's mocking the Serious Black Metal Introspective Musicians and having a laugh at their expense, I do say "well played", but let's just say I'm not going to sit through the joke ever again.

Review by John Chedsey

Review date: 08/2012

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