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Vittra (1995)

Vittra is the debut release from Sweden's Naglfar. Released on Wrong Again Records (now known as Regain), in May 1995, this bland album added to the already growing dung pile that was desecrating the grave of the second wave. While so many classic albums were spawned from 1992-94, they were increasingly difficult to find due to the large number of worthless records that were being pumped out by every third-rate band that wanted to cash in on what had rapidly become the next big trend in metal.

First off, this album is usually classified as black metal, though with the word 'melodic' in tacked onto the beginning of the label. These are the same blind fools that called Dissection melodic death metal, which shows just how backward people can be, sometimes. Vittra has far more in common with the early output from In Flames, as opposed to the likes of Nifelheim, Throne of Ahaz, or old Marduk. It can be stated that this L.P. represents many of the worst qualities that were afflicting the underground, around this time. For one, too much emphasis was being placed on trying to sound pretty, rather than creating an atmosphere of darkness or evil. The utilization of synth, clean vocals and acoustic guitars helps to raise the level of cheesiness. This, coupled with the awful songwriting, make it painfully clear that this belongs in the same category as most of the other wannabe power metal nonsense, with harsh vocals, that was being vomited forth from the Gothenburg scene. Everything regarding the construction of the songs goes against what black metal was, at the time. One glaring issue that should be noted is that the guitar riffs are not the central focus of the compositions. Instead, it seems as if much of the material is moved forward by the percussion and vocals, an error that was already common in death metal, by this period. As well, there is far too much double-bass, which only serves to detract more from the mediocre guitar melodies. Even the very best ideas presented here are boring and come across as very halfhearted. Even as far as melodic black metal goes, Naglfar did a poor job. Bands like Sacramentum and Vinterland took many of these same elements and achieved much more with them, as their efforts were far more consistent and possessed more creativity and artistic vision.

The production is just as bad as the actual songwriting, itself. However, due to the nature of the music, it is not surprising that they went for such an over-produced approach. Everything here is far too clean and sterile. There is no room for atmosphere, despite all of the theatrics, based on such an ultra-modern sound. This really sounds similar to Lunar Strain, from In Flames, to a great extent. The clarity of the drumming is a particularly annoying flaw, as this makes much more obvious the fact that the percussion is in a leading role, rather than a supportive one. The bass is too audible, which is a common error with albums recorded at Studio Abyss. As for the guitar tone, it is just as lifeless as the rest, not possessing even the slightest bit of a raw edge; something that metal should always have. Albums like this are exactly why Peter Tägtgren should never have been allowed to operate his own studio.

It is safe to say that Vittra is the aural equivalent of massaging your genitals with a cheese grater. This is horrible stuff that never should have been recorded, let alone released to the public. That is not to say that Naglfar was particularly detrimental to the underground, as they were but one of many that jumped on the bandwagon and contributed to further polluting the scene, but they were absolutely worthless and their debut album is a good example of this. Waste neither your time nor your money on this.
(26 Mar. 2012)

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