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The Wizard of Nerath (1995)
 

In my search for more quality Hellenic Black Metal, from the early-to-mid 90s, I eventually ran across The Wizard of Nerath, by Nergal. I must not have given it my full attention when I first heard a song from this album, as I had no idea what an abomination this really was. I made a critical error in assuming that a Black Metal album, from Greece, released in 1995 would be a safe bet. I was dead wrong.

To begin with, the overall sound isn't bad. But, upon closer inspection, the album is not what it seems to be. It possesses a very similar production to Non Serviam, by Rotting Christ, and Eosforos, by Thou Art Lord. The majority of the riffs are similar, though rather generic by comparison. However, there are a few moments that make you believe that this listening experience is, indeed, worth your time. In all honesty, I would have accepted something that was similar to the aforementioned albums, while being inferior. I wasn't searching for anything so great and majestic; simply another decent slab of Hellenic Black Metal. Unfortunately, the keyboard use on this record is not done in a complimentary manner. As a matter of fact, instead of accentuating the atmosphere, it seems very out of place and even awkward, at times. I'm not one to advocate their use in the first place, but the Hellenic bands always appeared to have a firm grasp on the proper utilization of keyboards. That is not the case with Nergal. Still, even this could be overlooked. But one aspect of the sound cannot be overlooked, nor can it be forgiven: the terrible vocal performance.

It's not uncommon for vocalists to attempt to recreate the amazing vocal style employed by Varg Vikernes, on the early Burzum albums. The problem is that, almost every single time that I have ever heard anyone even remotely trying to emulate this sound, they end up creating something so bloody awful that I can't stand it, at all. Whereas Varg captured a very primal sound that added so much to the music, his imitators always manage to miss something and end up sounding like a little girl screaming at the sight of a spider. The first track, "Timeless Father", is a prime example of this. Usually, this horrible imitation is saved for lame so-called 'depressive Black Metal', so I am spared from such nonsense. It was quite unexpected on this album. There is a little variation in the vocals, but it's all annoying. It's so utterly irritating that I'd rather roll around in razor wire and set myself on fire than to ever even be reminded of this horrendous piece of garbage, ever again.

And while I am airing out my grievances with regard to this ill-conceived joke of an album, I have to wonder what place a track titled "Ljus Mörker" has on an album recorded in Greece by Greek musicians with no ties, whatsoever, to Scandinavia. But, considering the sheer aural terror of this horrific piece of "music", it's a rather small complaint.

In conclusion, The Wizard of Nerath is an album that is severely irritating at best, and beyond atrocious, for the most part. Avoid this cursed abomination like the plague, or like the Hellenic version of Cold Lake.
 
(29 April 2010)

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