Album Title: Fenriir EP
Label: Indie Recordings
Date of Release: 7 May 2021
This is my first taste of Nordjevel, and what better way to make my acquaintance than with their latest offering, a five-track EP entitled ‘Fenriir’. Only knowing that Nordjevel are a Norwegian black metal band, I didn’t really know what to expect when pressing play for the first time. Would this be Dimmu Borgir style Norwegian black metal, or Darkthrone style? As it turns out, neither are correct as Nordjevel sit somewhere in the middle, albeit quite a bit closer to the Darkthrone end if we’re being truthful.
In English, Nordjevel means ‘Northern Devil’, whilst ‘Fenriir’ is the name given to a monstrous wolf in Norse Mythology, as depicted on the graphic front cover. The five musicians certainly try their best to make the music live up to both names as ‘Fenriir’ is a nasty affair at heart. The music created by vocalist Doedsadmiral, guitarists Destructhor and Valla, bassist Dzepticunt, and drummer Dominator, is uncompromising: evil-sounding, ferocious, cold, and extreme. However, spin the EP a couple of times whilst listening carefully, and you begin to realise that there’s a certain catchiness to the material that I simply wasn’t expecting. Add to this a production that is not as raw as other bands of Nordjevel’s ilk, and the whole thing becomes a lot more palatable than it otherwise might have been.
Take the opening title track as a prime example of what I’m talking about. The song begins in oppressive and dark fashion courtesy of the sound of a storm, lashing rain, and the distant exhausted wail of a female voice alongside an ominous growl, but once the composition gets going, it seems to cleverly blend the savage, cold black metal attack with understated melodic leanings. The sharp, frosty, fast-picked staccato riffs are strangely enticing as they carry with them a certain catchiness. And then, when the pace slows to a mid-tempo stomp, the melody and groove of the material looms large. We’re not talking the kind of more overt melody heard within the music of Emperor on ‘Anthems…’ or Dissection’s ‘Storm…’, but it’s there, and it make the opening attack rather addictive.
The immediate follow-up though, seeks to expunge any thoughts of Nordjevel having a soft or friendly underbelly. From the first note, ‘Gnawing The Bones’ is a lightning-fast barrage of extremity, with almost discordant riffs, drums, and bass all ripping along at breakneck speed, enhancing the intensity and sense of naked savagery, alongside the rasping, venomous growls of Doedsadmiral. Having said that, a sense of groove and imperiousness begins to rear its head in the middle of the track which I rather like with repeated listens.
The almost relentless attack favoured by Nordjevel continues apace for the remainder of the EP, with ‘Rovdyr’ a breathless slab of frosty black metal, built around the spiteful riffs and guitar work from Destructhor and Valla, whilst you have to almost feel sorry for drummer Destructor as he’s barely allowed any time to ease off the blastbeats.
Interestingly, ‘Fallen Angel’ feels just a little more theatrical in tone, starting as it does with the sound of a chiming bell before offering a groovier, slightly lighter-hearted, and darkly playful cut of black metal. But it isn’t long though before more ‘normal’ Nordjevel service is resumed via ‘Det Rog Og Ror’, which features a final dose of quasi-melodic staccato riffing, intense blastbeat drumming, and tortured, gritty malevolence from vocalist Doedsadmiral.
I wasn’t certain whether I would like ‘Fenriir’ or not when I was first swayed to take a listen a few nights ago. However, whilst I recognise that this won’t be to everyone’s tastes, I have found myself slowly warming up to Nordjevel. Listen closely, and the music isn’t as grim and inaccessible as you might think at first. Indeed, it has a certain rustic, raw charm about it. And importantly, ‘Fenriir’ has put the Norwegians firmly on my radar, so that I check out future releases. Check this out if black metal is your thing, because it’d not at all bad.
The Score Of Much Metal: 78%
You can also check out my other reviews from previous years right here: