Borre, Norway's Nidingr embody the Viking heritage of their native land. Emerging from their own dark ages – the half-decade between 2005's Sorrow Infinite and Darkness and their latest album – they war and pillage like their fiercest forefathers. 2010's Wolf Father thus proves a savage affair, brimming with the brutality of berserker aggression.
Nidingr's newest recording takes a step above the rest with its storytelling. Inspiration for its lyrics was torn from The Eddas, an epic poetry cycle capturing the battle and bloodshed of Norse mythology. The album's six songs accentuate this idea – each is ferocious and brief, not unlike tales told in the temporary safety of a Viking campfire. It's a message of massacre and magic that should conquer the strongest musical resistance given its quality.
The reason for this is that Wolf Father is a well-bred hybrid of black and death metal. A song like "Fafnismol" charges with the former subgenre's chilling, speed-picked melodies and the latter's chest beating grooves. It also perfects Nidingr's animalistic rage, providing an excellent introduction to the band and its essence.
"Baldrs Draumar" lets slicing guitar melodies clash with a pounding rhythm section like militaries attacking and counter-attacking. This battle breaks down into spectral guitar chords made all the more eerie by guest vocalist Garm's ghostly crooning – the Ulver main man remains spookier than ever.
"Reginsmol" thus has quite the portent preceding it. Losing no momentum, it holds its own with galloping riffs, cutting guitar sweeps and percussion stampeding its way over the opposition. "Voluspo" lets loose a volley of chilling melodies like arrows, stabbing deep into eardrums with a catchy, memorable anthem.
A flurry of drums race ahead at the start of "Hymiskvitha," only to have the guitars give chase with a torrent of notes that buzz like hornets. When the competing instruments collide, the guitars win the day with a smothering cloud of amplifier haze that envelopes all.
"Lokasenna" lays down a final charge of blastbeat drums and gut-punching guitars, over which circles a sinister melody like a bird of prey. The album ends with Nidingr slamming down a passage of grim guitar riffs, laying the album to rest with furious finality.
Wolf Father is a lean, mean disc that hits with the quickness of a raiding party and the heft of broadswords. Its six songs always go for the jugular, leaving a solid clubbing any time they fall short. It's a beast worth hunting down as Wolf Father has potential as the head of the blackened death metal pack.
Mark Hensch is the editor of Thrashpit. His writing also appears on his Heavy Metal Hensch blog at The Washington Times.