Review by Felix on September 10, 2023.
Thousands of black metal bands have left the so-called left hand path. All those "Satanists" who lacked of conviction and commercial success, tried to find a new musical homeland while forgetting their long-standing fans. The result was almost always miserable. However, these bands increase the value of devilish storm troopers like Azaghal. Honestly, the here presented album has its ups and downs and a few tracks cannot convince all along the line. But I appreciate the unswerving stubbornness of mastermind Narqath, the pure blackness and the negativity of the sound. "Nemesis" does not lack of inscrutability and its typical black metal melodies seduce with their smell of death.
Azaghal offers the full program of the genre while avoiding to experiment with foreign influences. Atypical elements can only do harm. The band manages every tempo cleverly while presenting high speed tracks as well as slowly crawling bastards. The second species is very well represented by the monstrous "Ex Nihilo". It reminds me of Marduk´s similarly constructed tunes like "Temple of Decay" or "Funeral Dawn"; a bubbling stream of lava with a devastating power. This song breathes the spirit of firstly black metal, secondly black metal and lastly black metal. Better still, all tracks are black as pitch. With regard to this clearly defined approach, one might believe that the album lacks of variety. But the opposite is the case. For example, the raging opener shows quite a different face. Already its first riff drags you into an atmosphere of damnation. The song barrels along like a hurricane at the North Pole without leaving any questions concerning the basic direction of "Nemesis". High speed tunes like "Hail the Whore" confirm the vehemence of the band. Azaghal is not afraid of a certain amount of primitivity, because they are able to link the very simple sections with fascinating melodies and fierce determination.
One thing is for sure. The experienced four-piece knows all the tricks of the genre. Heavyweight guitar work, diabolical vocals and drums that sound like a jackhammer build the backbone of their music. The band acts on an equal footing as its compatriots of Behexen and the magical yet violent harmonies of songs such as "In Deathlike Silence" do not pale beside the highlights of "Nightside Emanations". This is all the more noteworthy in view of the fact that Azaghal does not need a great number of different riffs. The programmatically titled "Black Legions of Satan" serves as proof for this thesis. Its mid-tempo riff is both merciless and simple, but this tune does not need any further pillar. It reveals the essential elements as well as the typical aura of the genre in a sustainable manner so that you will not miss anything.
Rarely used clean vocals sound more or less bumpy and a small number of guitar lines fails to develop a deadly power. Nonetheless, "Nemesis" demonstrates the unabated bellicosity of Azaghal. Not least in respect of the coherent and well-grounded production, I guess that almost every black metal supporter will enjoy the record. Once again, the Finnish horde takes a stand against musical tolerance and misconceived softness. The left hand path is not yet orphaned.
Rating: 8.4 out of 10456