Nagelfar – Virus West - 2-LP
Reissue of the 2001 release.
Another superb album from the German Ván Records community. “Virus West” is Nagelfar’s second and (sadly) the last full-length album. With Zingultus (Endstille) on vocals, Zorn (Ego Noir) on guitars and bass and (nobody less than) Alexander von Meilenwald (The Ruins of Beverast) on drums and keyboards (plus their permanent session keyboardist Garvin), “Virus West” sounds nothing like a three men work – an hour long black metal feast that reminds epic battle scenes, darkness and cold, executed in superior German engineering, with the perfect balance of variation and repetition, nothing unnecessary or “for the sake of it”. Leaning on the epic side of black metal, Virus West is an exceptional piece of art.
Von Meilenwald is pulling all the strings from behind his drumkit here. As masterful as one would expect, his drum work here is both mechanically precise and artfully genius. The album sees frequent shifts in tempo and mood, usually from blast beats to slower atmospheric passages, and his complete control of what is going on makes these a joy to behold. Also the tone is extremely well adjusted, organic and thunderous. Despite casting two keyboardists, these sections of orchestration and chorus are quite rare and it is the guitars that lead the melody and atmosphere. Here we have insane riffs one after another, occasional tremolos and solos. The somewhat distorted bass acts as a rhythm guitar.
Zingultus kills the vocals. He adds so much energy, fury and theatricality to the music. Often using two-track (and sometimes left/right), the tone could really be a bit higher, though. And the best part is shrieking in German. Now, German is an amazing language that suits the music perfectly. Anyone who claims otherwise clearly has a different opinion, which is fine by the way. Just listen to Mahler’s “das Lied von der Erde” or Einstürzende Neubauten’s “Fiat Lux”. As with any other genre of music (or just simple conversation) German fits black metal in glorious fashion.
The album includes 6 10-minutes or so long songs and a small interlude of war drums and keyboards in between that divide the album in two half-hour parts. The album is packed to the brim with amazing material and haunting melodies, but the groovy and headbanging second track “Sturm der Katharsis” is my absolute favourite.