Wednesday, February 29, 2012
Azaghal - Nemesis 
Azaghal are a band that have been around for a substantial amount of time, “Nemesis” being their ninth album to date. While admittedly I haven’t listened to anything else by this band, I found myself quite surprised when the first track came on and blasted decent waves of melodic black metal. While some traits of their music agree with and follow the common trend of black metal that usually gets released, lots of songs are dominated or at least contain a few melodic riffs that might remind listeners of bands like Sargeist and Dissection, yet not living up to what the latter accomplished.
Reiterating that “melodic” point once again, they have it quite prevalent throughout their music. However, that’s not to say that they play only melodic black metal. They usually switch up between more straightforward black metal riffs and melodic BM riffs, thus creating a steady pattern of solid musicianship and development of ideas. Most of the time the riffs are tremolo-picked, as to be expected, but here and there the listener will hear a slower riff being played, for example on the intro to “Ex Nihilo” or the more groove-influenced intro to “Black Legions of Satan,” or even the rolling thrashy riff on "The Pit of Shoggoths." Their production augments the quality of their music, generating a more cold effect on the songs and making the riffs sound that much better. It’s not exactly a good thing that they must depend on their production to make their riffs sound better than average, but there are some passages throughout that will pleasantly surprise the listener; yet not enough of them so to create a more lasting or impacting effect.
Monotony in melodic black metal is almost unheard of, yet unfortunately, while listening through the album, I felt like Azaghal didn’t have very much to offer and they just kept on playing the same things over and over again. Similar melodies, similar riffs, and the vocals are something that don’t change but at all throughout the entire album. No, vocals aren’t really made for having much variation, but the ones on here become slightly boring after a while. They’re clean and raspy at the same time, if that makes sense, and they’re what’s to be expected to derive from a melodic, or any black metal album at that. The drums play along a melodic black metal vein, i.e. blast beats here and there, good enough double bass work yet that isn’t put very much into play, and slower passages as the guitars slow down as well, following along with their rhythms. However, as with the guitars and pretty much everything else on the album, they rely heavily on the great and cold production and aren’t very original nor mind-blowing.
Bashings aside, “Nemesis” really isn’t a bad album per se. It does have its good merits laying there, hidden in the dust, with several particularly good melodies, yet not enough of them to be able to come off as a stellar album. They do show their appreciation for what the black metal genre became during the second wave, but they incorporate lots of melodies that were seen slightly less amongst bands of this genre, akin to the aforementioned ones like Dissection, Sargeist, Sacramentum, and so forth. It’s worth listening to and has some great riffs thrown in between more mediocre ones but it’s, unfortunately, nothing to go crazy over either.