NAGELFAR — Hünengrab im Herbst

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NAGELFAR - Hünengrab im Herbst cover
4.74 | 12 ratings | 3 reviews
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Album · 1997

Tracklist

1. Intro (0:26)
2. Seelenland (5:21)
3. Schwanengesang (14:16)
4. Hünengrab im Herbst (5:32)
5. Bildnis der Apokalypse (6:22)
6. Srontgorrth (Das dritte Kapitel) (9:34)
7. Der Flug des Raben (14:00)

Total Time: 55:33

Line-up/Musicians

- Zorn / guitars, bass
- Alexander von Meilenwald / drums
- Jander / vocals
- Weidmann Sveinn Hackelnberg / bass
- Garvin / keyboards

About this release

Originally released by Kettenhund records.

Re-released by Ván Records in 2009 as a super jewel case and A5 digipack with new artwork and a bonus track:
8. Fressen der Raben

Thanks to Gi, Wilytank, adg211288 for the updates

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NAGELFAR HÜNENGRAB IM HERBST reviews

Specialists/collaborators reviews

siLLy puPPy
While Scandinavia ruled the black metal world in the early 90s, it didn’t take long for other regions of the world to jump into the grimy darkened pits of musical extremity and find their own unique spin on the underlying paradigm. Germany’s NAGELFAR was one of the early birds to the German black metal scene having formed in 1993 by guitarist Zorn and drummer Rykthius von Meilenwald, now known as Alexander von Meilenwald (who would later become the one-man band Ruins Of Beverest). Right from the beginning the duo made a promise to only continue the NAGELFAR project if the two of them were in it, and so they did although they would include many changing lineups of hired help. Joining Zorn and Meilenwald in time for their debut was vocalist Jander, bassist Weidmann Sveinn Hacklenberg and keyboardist Garvin.

The name NAGELFAR comes from Norse mythology and is the German spelling for “Naglfar” which is also the name of a totally different Swedish black metal band. The “Naglfar” was a boat made entirely from the fingernails and toenails of the dead. Now THAT’S fucking black metal metal!!! While missing the original second wave of the black metal scene, NAGELFAR took their time to hone their craft and forge a new style that would become known as Pagan black metal, a style that had already been tried with bands like Primordial, Samain, Voluspaa and most famously Ulver on their successful debut “Bergtatt: Et eeventyr i 5 capitler,” but on their 1997 debut HÜNENGRAB IM HERBST, the band forged a new brand of Pagan black metal that sounded like no other from the era and to this day still has an air of uniqueness despite the legions of similarly styled bands to have hit the scene in the past two decades.

Much like the second wave of bombastic Scandinavian strain of black metal, NAGELFAR implements all the expected black metal bombs such as buzzsaw guitar riffing with tremolo picking, orotund blastbeat intensity, unhinged shrieked vocals and an overall gloomy and darkened atmosphere, however as much as NAGELFAR turned to Norwegian bands like Darkthrone, Emperor and Immortal for inspiration, so too did they adopt the Viking metal characteristic of Bathory’s second career phase that eschewed venomous anti-Christian rhetoric, Satanic obsessions and misanthropy and instead installed the lyrical contents of Paganism, mythology and folklore that explored the themes of nature and the depths of the human soul. While the extreme black metal elements dominate, they are intricately entwined with less frantic segments that include epic sung clean vocals, melodic use of acoustic guitars and pianos and an airy synthesized ambient background that hovers over the metal bombast like an incessant ice storm in Lapland. NAGELFAR also debuted their love of electronically comprised industrial sounds that would be more prominent on future releases.

The seven tracks that make up HÜNENGRAB IM HERBST are constructed differently enough to keep the album interesting throughout the near hour long run. Germanic folk melodies prevail as the underpinning of the compositional constructs and thus emphasize the Pagan ritualistic aura that surrounds the frenetic black metal outbursts. The tracks are also epic in scope as two tracks exceed the fourteen minute mark and the overall compositions exude an avant-garde flair that is more epic than the standard second wave black metal album of the era. In a way, NAGELFAR crafted the black metal extension of Bathory who had deemphasized black metal in favor of a new style called Viking metal. HÜNENGRAB IM HERBST develops themes presented by Enslaved and sounds sort of like what they (Enslaved) would conjure up if they had fused with Amorphis around the “Tales From The Thousand Lakes” era, a sound that fuses black metal and folk metal so perfectly that it takes on an entirely new sheen.

This one was love at first listen and has only gotten better after repeated listens. The warring factions of bombastic black metal, melodic atmospheric folk elements and pseudo-progressive epical compositional fortitude give HÜNENGRAB IM HERBST a long lasting impression and has become one of Germany’s best black metal exports. The album has been released on both the Kettenhund label and the Van label with two completely different album covers that depict the same levitating boulder from different angle points. This one has remained a favorite Pagan black metal album on my playlist for many years as it holds up remarkably well, offering a well-balanced journey through black metal bombast, Pagan folk reverie and melodic with an edge splendor. NAGELFAR would release two more albums “Srontgorrth” and “Virus West” before they would dissolve the band but this debut would never be topped as it displays all the building blocks of an utterly addictive emersion session!
Wilytank
Despite winter being the common season whose imagery is brought up in black metal, autumn is a season that fits the genre as well. It's still got the bleak yet beautiful image that winter has, but autumn still has a sort of sorrowful warmness left in it as opposed to the absolute grim coldness of winter. There's definitely enough black metal bands out there that can bring this mood out; in fact, between Drudkh, Imperium Dekadenz, Gris, and Sombres Forêts, I say the idea has been thrown around enough times to no longer be considered ground breaking even if the bands don't necessarily make the songs about the season itself.

Bet let's go to an earlier example. Germany's Nagelfar released Hünengrab im Herbst in 1997; and despite being a piece of mainly fast-paced black metal, it's also remorseful sounding which goes well with the translated title "Dolmen (megalithic grave) in Autumn". It's a shame this album didn't get more attention at the time because I'm sure that Nagelfar would be held as big as the Norwegian bands if they were, and this album definitely deserves more attention than its getting for being so damn awesome.

I'll even go to this extreme: Hünengrab im Herbst is the best black metal album to come out of Germany; and despite it having the autumnal themes, it's worth listening to at all times of the year.

The band's two main guys and the two biggest stars on this album are the drummer Alexander von Meilenwald and the guitarist Zorn, and the clear production on this album allow both of these guys to properly show off their potential. Zorn lays down these melody laced riffs throughout the album while Alex's tight drum work forms a sturdy musical backbone for the rest of the instruments to build off of. The vocalist Jander does a phenomenal job as well both with his harsh shrieks and his clean baritone vocals.

There's no structure of verses and choruses in any of the songs. Though some sections of songs are played more than once, the band makes extensive use of bridges and breaks for transition. Since the songs on this album are rather long (two are 14+ minutes), this a good thing to have. All the songs are mainly fast-tempo but have well placed parts where the song suddenly slows. This method reaches it's peak on "Srontgorrth (Das dritte Kapitel)" with its fluid progression, the awesome bridge and breakdown that starts around the 4:25 mark, and the fast and furious finish.

The amount of epicness is consistent throughout the album. Between the melodic riffs, Jander's clean vox, and the controlled but excellent sounding use of the keyboards, Nagelfar have constructed a musical megalith of autumnal majesty and sorrow, from the weeping (and explosions?) in the intro that lead into "Seelenland"'s opening blast beats, to the final stretch of "Der Flug Des Raben" and everything in between. Even the interlude in the middle, the title track, is awesome and worth listening to. It features beautiful sounding piano with Jander's clean vocals which turn harsh on the second half and are joined by a muffled guitar and drums.

All black metal fans need to listen to Hünengrab im Herbst. It's easily one of the best of the genre. It's unfortunate that Zorn and Alex couldn't stick together longer to make more great albums. After this, there's another great album, then a much weaker one, then an unceremonious dissolution.

(100/100)
Warthur
Nagelfar (not to be confused with the Swedish Naglfar) play pagan-oriented black metal with an epic, majestic atmosphere in keeping with the charming cover art that graces Hunengrab in Herbst. With Jander focusing delivering both clean, almost chanted vocals as well as the shrieking typical of most black metal bands, and a magnificent production job which eschews the standard kvlt lo-fi aesthetic in favour of one which really brings out the symphonic influences here and there in the band's sound, this album stakes out Nagelfar's unique territory in the black metal realm and defends it against all-comers. Excellent stuff, highly recommended to all black metal fans.

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