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Nagelfar (not to be confused with the Swedish Naglfar) were a German black metal band. The band was founded in Aachen (North Rhine-Westphalia, Germany) in 1993 by Zorn and Rhyktius V. Grhabakk von Meilenwald. After a long search for a lead vocalist, Smaug was selected; Svein von Hackenberg became acquainted with Smaug and Rhyktius at a party and entered the band's lineup as bassist in 1995. In autumn 1995, Smaug was replaced by Jander, and Garvin joined as session keyboardist. This lineup recorded the band's first demo, Als die Tore sich öffnen ("As the Gates Open"); their second demo, Jagd ("Hunt"), followed the next year before the band secured a contract with Kettenhund Records. In 1997, the band's first album, Hünengrab im Herbst, appeared; a split EP with Dark Embrace, contraining the track "Nur ein See" ("Only One Lake") followed the same year. In read more...
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NAGELFAR albums / top albums

NAGELFAR Hünengrab im Herbst album cover 4.64 | 15 ratings
Hünengrab im Herbst
Pagan Black Metal 1997
NAGELFAR Srontgorrth album cover 4.09 | 7 ratings
Black Metal 1999
NAGELFAR Virus West album cover 4.38 | 4 ratings
Virus West
Black Metal 2001

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NAGELFAR Als die Tore sich öffnen album cover 0.00 | 0 ratings
Als die Tore sich öffnen
Black Metal 1995
NAGELFAR Jagd album cover 0.00 | 0 ratings
Black Metal 1996

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Album · 2001 · Black Metal
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The German band NAGELFAR began their black metal journey with “Hünengrab im Herbst” where they honed their excellent mix of brutal black metal, Pagan inspired Germanic folk music and dark ambient electronic wizardry that provided the proper frigid atmospheres. On “Srontgorrth” the band toned down the folk aspects a bit in favor of a more relentlessly bombastic black metal assault and on their third and final album VIRUS WEST, they pretty much implement all the tricks from both albums to make an excellent finale to their all too brief career.

Sporting creepy black and white imagery of some forbidding land with pyramid shaped rock formations that resemble dragon’s teeth, the image turns out to be a real place called the Westwall or Siegfried Line which was a German defensive line in both World Wars. VIRUS WEST captures the theme on the cover art and implements it all throughout the album’s hour plus run which captures the darkest period of German history when things were at their bleakest. The album title refers to the destructive forces that the Western world has unleashed onto the planet which have caused unimaginable death and destruction.

VIRUS WEST consists of seven tracks and although most range from the nine to twelve minute mark, they are quite short compared to the sprawling epic behemoths on “Srontgortth” which expanded past sixteen. Following in the footsteps fo the second album, VIRUS WEST is a raging black metal noisefest with bantering blastbeat cannonades accompanied by cascading rivers of buzzsaw guitar dissonance from the incessant swarms of riffing. Whereas the debut found the bass and guitar providing clearly separate roles, on VIRUS WEST, the two unite in a traditional black metal melting pot to create an indecipherable cacophonous roar.

While the majority of the album is a free flowing fury of black metal madness, the album brings back many of the Pagan folk elements of the debut with segments of acoustic guitar joined by epic clean sung vocals which find the new vocalist Zingultus join the band after the departure of Jander. While clearly a different singer or should i say screamer for the most part at the helm, Zingultus implements the same style of raspy shrieked vocals and occasional clean sung styles. While the guitars are mostly on light of speed riffing tempos, there are also many slower doom metal passages that allow a little breathing room from time to time. There are also some of those black metal gallops that remind me of the best of Bathory’s black metal days. The compositions aren’t as sprawling as the “Srontgorrth” but add enough variety to keep them interesting throughout.

Given the theme of war time death and violence, the music suits it well with its relentless blood curdling delivery of incessant waves of sound with epic folk laden acoustic sections that declare absolute resignation and enervating taxation of the body and soul. The intermission piece “Westwall” eschews the metal all together and sounds more like a medieval hunting music piece with military march percussion and a french horn or something providing the call of battle for the troops to sally forth and defeat the enemy. The compositions are maturely developed.

The entire album has a rather Viking metal flair to it without sounding Scandinavian nor tamping down the black metal bombast. Some parts are very Enslaved sounding but not for too long. Likewise the industrial aspects of the first two albums have been replaced with a more dark ambient styled atmospheric backing. There are also some of those hunting horn calls that pop up in “Meuterei.” As with all NAGELFAR’s albums, lyrics are written and delivered exclusively int he German language.

When NAGELFAR was formed, guitarist Zorn and drummer Rykthius von Meilenwald promised to end the band if either of them decided to move on to other things and that’s exactly what happened. The duo simply decided that to take NAGELFAR to the next step would require full time dedication and it seems that the creative spirit was beginning to wane so Meilenwald would continue as the one-man bands Truppensturm and Ruins Of Beverest which has become one of the more interesting metal bands of the 21st century.

Zorn would continue on as the one-man band Simple Existent and with the band EgoNoir. It’s quite sad that NAGELFAR didn’t continue on because i love their mix of folk, black metal and atmospheres. The black metal is the real deal, raw, angry and historically vile with the supplemental elements adding the perfect complementary touches. This is the next best NAGELFAR album after the debut in my book but NAGELFAR delivered a stellar trilogy of fine albums that any black metal aficionado should not miss out on.

NAGELFAR Srontgorrth

Album · 1999 · Black Metal
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Officially titled SRONTGORRTH: Die Macht Erfaßte Das Meine Wie Die Angst Das Blut Der Anderen (lit. "Power seized mine [my blood] like fear [seized] the blood of the others”), the German black metal band NAGELFAR followed up their debut “Hünengrab im Herbst” with a loose concept album that continued the Pagan themes in the form of the four seasons, the first three tracks of which were remakes taken from their earlier demos and polished into black metal bombs to be dropped with impunity. The fourth track eschews the metal world altogether and the final takes an extended black metal journey that extends past the 18 minute mark. Altogether, the album races past the 70 minute mark and although technically the second album, drummer and founder Alexander von Meilenwald claims that this was not their second album but merely their second release. OK, whatever!

While the debut was a stellar mix of bombastic black metal with Pagan Germanic folk mixed in with some atmospheric electronics, SRONTGORRTH is noticeably a heavier beast altogether that after a few tinkering of electronica industrial frigid effects finds an endless parade of Zorn’s heavily distorted black metal bass and guitar riffs whizzing by at a million miles an hour, a much angrier vocal frenzy provided by Jander and an almost incessant pummelation of blastbeats and drumming power pounding like there’s no tomorrow. While Garvin provides some easily discerned keyboards that add an atmospheric touch, they are merely supplemental elements to a bombastic frenzy that rarely lets up. Andy Classen adds additional bass parts and i’m not sure who performs where.

Track listings are truncated on most databases but their official titles are ridiculously long.

ONE "Kapitel Eins. Der Frühling: Als die Tore sich öffnen... (Freiheit oder Untergang?)" – Chapter One. The Spring: As the Gates Open... (Freedom or Ruin?) – 16:45 (a) Sonnenfinsternis Eins: Zeit der Schatten – Solar Eclipse One: Time of Shadows (b) Eine Geburt – A Birth (c) Sonnenfinsternis Zwei: Unter neuen Wolken – Solar Eclipse Two: Under New Clouds (d) Wind der Verwesung – Wind of Rotting

TWO Kapitel Zwei. Der Sommer: Die Existenz jenseits der Tore (Begreifen des Bewußtseins ist Streben nach Wissen) – Chapter Two. The Summer: Existence on the Other Side of the Gates (Understanding of Consciousness Is Striving After Knowledge) – 16:10 (a) Mein Thron auf den Leibern verstorbener Freunde – My Throne upon the Bodies of My Dead Friends (b) Mondschatten – Moonshade

THREE Kapitel Drei. Der Herbst: Endzeit (Vernunft siegt über Nostalgie) – Chapter Three. The Autumn: Endtime (Reason Triumphs over Nostalgia) – 9:18

FOUR Kapitel Vier. Der Winter: Trümmer – Chapter Four. The Winter: Debris – 9:35

FIVE Kapitel Fünf. Willkommen zu Haus (...denn keine Sonne schmelzt mich, das Licht, die Freiheit, den Untergang) – Chapter Five. Welcome Home (...Because No Sun Melts Me, the Light, the Freedom, the Ruin) – 18:09

The tracks are also ridiculously long as well with the first two extending past the 16 minute mark, the third and fourth clocking in over 9 and the grand finale just over 18! For the most part, the album chugs along at breakneck speed and while incorporating the Pagan folk elements of the debut, they are submerged beneath the incessant buzzsaw and blastbeat freneticism that is omnipresent. The only exception to this is when a rather darkened techno electronica steals the show with no metal whatsoever. This happens as intros, outros and for the entire track of “Kapitel Vier” which is like a more evil sounding Ulcer track from albums like “Perdition City.” This album was quite impossible to find after the original label Kettenhund went bankrupt but has been re-released on the Van label with a bonus CD of the tracks from the original demos, unessential extras but quite possibly the only way you can find a physical format.

While not as consistently awesome as “Hünengrab im Herbst” and clearly lacks the diverse dynamics that made that one so special, SRONTGORRTH, despite consisting of a few recycled tracks and a few tag alongs created to fill it out is still quite the brilliant black metal listening experience. Sometimes the album does become a little monotonous as the album has progressive metal album track lengths except without the progressive parts being included but it does provide a bombastic mesmerizing experience with some excruciating instrumental workouts. There are a few cooling off periods where the epic clean sung vocals come in but for the most part this album is a raspier, heavier and incessantly blacker album than its predecessor. While i’ll always prefer the debut to this sophomore release, SRONTGORRTH is premium melodic black metal in the vein of bands like Dissection with pseudo-tech prowess but serious brutal chops all the way.

NAGELFAR Hünengrab im Herbst

Album · 1997 · Pagan Black Metal
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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!

NAGELFAR Hünengrab im Herbst

Album · 1997 · Pagan Black Metal
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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.


NAGELFAR Hünengrab im Herbst

Album · 1997 · Pagan Black Metal
Cover art Buy this album from MMA partners
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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