Review by Fernando on March 8, 2023.
When it comes to Eastern Europe black metal, there’s really a lot to choose from, be it the eclectic and harsh Ukrainian scene, the cold atmospheres of Russia, or the wretched and funereal Polish scene, many countries in that area go into varied directions, some good, some bad, and some interesting. But today we have a Serbian act, Niflungar and its newest EP, Wolf Battalion.
Niflungar is a fairly new act that has stuck to the black metal ethos, a one man band releasing music independently, and being fairly consistent. While I wasn’t familiarized with this project (one-man black metal projects are as prevalent as grains of sand in the desert at this point), checking this band blind was a blessing in disguise, as Mr. Koschei Bessmertny, truly surprised me here. First and foremost, while this is indeed an EP, and yes the drums are programmed, what truly impressed me was the guitar playing. Niflungar play melodic black metal in a weird synthesis of Ukrainian sorrow and even German aggression, but with an emphasis on riffs that takes clear inspiration from Darkthrone and Gorgoroth, and as such the music is catchy and groovy but in a good way, as the focus on the riffs and a consistently dark atmosphere complete the music.
There is really one major issue that personally prevented me from giving this EP full marks, and it's the production, the obvious and glaring issue is the clean sound, or rather, very, very clean and crisp sound, in some of the most groove-centric sections of songs it really sounds more like thrash metal or Swedish melodeath, not to a detriment, again the music is quite good, but to a very noticeable degree, and of course just to get it out of the way, the programmed drums also don’t help in this regard. However, where I really found a major flaw is the mixing on the record, aside from how clean it is, all four songs sound different, mixing wise, the first and third track sound big and powerful, but the even tracks sound too low and even wispy. Now, complaining about production in black metal is somewhat moot, but it really varies, this EP can actually benefit from a clean production, the very melodic and eclectic music can only truly shine with a good production, but it went to the complete opposite extreme of crisp production, which at worst sounds sterile on top of the very unbalanced mixing in the tracks.
With that said, while this production is the biggest hurdle, the music is what truly saves the EP, and I for one can overlook the production with this set of songs. As I mentioned earlier, Niflungar play a guitar-centric style of melodic black metal that’s very dynamic and eclectic, and with a very strong songwriting as at no point was the experience monotonous or one-dimensional, and the music is appropriately dark and foreboding in spite of the production which shows how good Koschei Bessmertny is as a shredder and vocalist, as he wails viciously from beginning to end, but also knows when to let the guitar do the work. I would normally complain about a near inaudible bass, but given how powerful the guitars are I can overlook that preference, the same applies for the programmed drums, as again both are the foundation in which the guitar shines and both work adequately.
Overall, while I would recommend Koschei Bessmertny to get better recording equipment and an actual drum set, that still doesn’t detract how good his riffs, melodies and vocals are, and he does an excellent job of flexing those, even if his building blocks are too digital for my liking. So I do recommend this EP and I will certainly check his earlier stuff.
Best tracks: ‘Homo Homini Lupus Est’, 'In The Name Of The Blade (Part II)'
Rating: 8 out of 10512
Review by Alex Grindor on February 23, 2023.
From the distant corners of Serbia, Niflungar has spawned its latest release: Wolf Batallion. A short but outstanding EP of raw, furious melodic black metal. With its tongue firmly set in misanthropic convictions and pagan beliefs, Niflungar has crafted a cohesive, strong output for fans of the style. Although I have found minute details about this record, it is still a quality work.
Unwilling to keep you waiting, the EP starts immediately with 'Homo Homini Lupus Est', swapping a rabid desire to return to nature's spirit. From here on, the music keeps a constant pace, yet brims with dynamics and guitar harmonies while never straying from the raw path carved ahead. As it happens with this style, it offers atmosphere in its simplicity and musical approach. Tracks like 'In The Name Of The Blade (Part 2)' feature a constant riff that induces a quasi-hypnotic state, as did many bands from the old-school. The bass tone is exquisite and shines prominently while never being distracting in the mix. Vocals are executed competently and relish in the hatred they exhale in their lyrics.
Production wise, everything is great. However there is a small inconsistency in the first track, as it features a more riverbed sound while the rest of the EP sounds more dry. It is very disconcerting at first and the only major gripe I have with the production as a whole, but if you can get over this little detail, then you will love it. The choice of splitting 'In The Name Of The Blade' in 2 tracks, seems a bit of a bad move for me. Especially when part 2, despite its strong start, is the one with the most repetitive riff. Luckily, there is a great dosage of variety to subvert this in the song itself.
Raw, uncompromising and hypnotic, Niflungar has crafted a well made EP to quench your thirst for melodic, atmospheric black metal. It may not be my cup of tea as a whole, but nonetheless it is a great piece of work. And for once, it is great to listen to a well-mixed bass. I wish Niflungar great success.
Rating: 8.7 out of 10512