Last week was fun, going back through hair metal and all the stuff that happened in 1991. This week is back to absolutely no fun. I’m going back to 2005 and grabbing one of my favorite “no fun, people suck and everything is awful” black metal albums.
Naglfar – Pariah
Released June 30, 2005 via Century Media Records
My Favorite Tracks – And The World Shall Be Your Grave, A Swarm Of Plagues, Revelations Carved In Flesh
Naglfar underwent major change before the release of Pariah. The band’s founding vocalist Jens Rydén left the group after their prior effort Sheol, leaving bassist Kristoffer Olivius to helm the group. Naglfar had just gained a fair bit of momentum from Sheol and would be tested to provide a worthy follow-up.
Pariah sees an exploration of misanthropic themes, the album’s songs connected in an evisceration of the human experience. This is a level beyond being upset that Karen can’t put her shopping cart back in the proper place at the store – this album calls for the nuclear destruction of humankind in multiple songs. It moves past the need to express angst as a way to let off some steam and enters the territory of condemning civilization as a whole. We are far past the point of breaking stuff, this is all out war.
I will visit each of the 8 proper songs track-by-track, leaving off the brief intro Proclamation.
A Swarm Of Plagues
The album begins with a mission statement focusing on the destruction of humanity. It is pure textbook misanthropy – due to the wayward nature of humanity, it should perish in nuclear flames. The destruction is judgment rather than an accident. Sonically the song flies along at a frenetic pace until a mid-section interlude that offers one of the album’s few moments of subtlety.
Spoken Words Of Venom
This song embraces hatred, whether it’s of an individual or humanity as whole is unclear. The music does not let up off the accelerator through the track, while lyrically Olivius mows down his target with every negative word in the thesaurus. It is an unsettling way to dismiss the whole of someone’s existence.
The Murder Manifesto
Here the band turn the tempo down just a hair as the song’s narrator stalks his prey. There seems to be a theme of a dark cult confronting its more holy adversaries in this song rather than simply someone killing for the sake of doing so. It is a targeted, focused effort in the album’s setting of the end times of civilization.
Revelations Carved In Flesh
Another track about murder, though this time it seems this death cult is recruiting willing sacrificial lambs for its slaughter. This song stands out a bit for its melody and creativity amongst the ever-present backdrop of misanthropy. The lyrics do quite explicitly spell out the ritual murder and are in line with a fair bit of death metal fare. The grotesque final verse is especially something as easily found on a Cannibal Corpse album as opposed to black metal.
None Shall Be Spared
This song returns to the worldwide scope of things, declaring a war against the Abarahmic faiths. It is not openly stated though the lyric’s targeted aim of “2,000 years of lies” offers up the theme well enough. It is the ceremony of opposites in its final form, bringing about the end rather than existing in a perpetual state of debate.
And The World Shall Be Your Grave
It is again time to visit the ultimate expression of misanthropic leanings – the end times. Here the world perishes by way of nuclear war. The lyrics, of course, celebrate this outcome. Nothing could justify a misanthropic perspective more than humanity dooming itself with its own creation. Misanthropy is sometimes, like nihilism, a warning rather than an outlook, but on Pariah it is the perspective and the all-consuming nuclear end is the goal. It all leads to the same end regardless of what lenses one looks through things with.
The Perpetual Horrors
Heading toward the album’s close, this song begins to turn the concept of external hatred on its head a bit. Any expression of this kind of negativity will inevitably lead one to look in the mirror, and this song is a glimpse into the themes present on Naglfar’s next album. Humanity is still suffering and dying here, but the cause is looking at his own hollow, rotten core this time.
Carnal Scorn And Spiritual Malice
Perhaps conceptually, the album ends with all of the hatred and spite being turned on the album’s “protagonist.” Finding existence pointless, he brings about his own end in disturbing and explicit fashion. Still railing against the tenants of the world that irk him, mainly religion, our humble hater goes out on his own terms rather than the nuclear war prophesied throughout the rest of the album. The album’s final sound brings the point home.
Pariah is an album executed with ferocity and a fanatical railing against humanity. It does not often contain nuance and its lyrical offerings are explicit and profane. Naglfar’s sound does recall their renowned countrymen Dissection in both music and theme but is not purely an exercise in worship of that band. While Naglfar are on a prominent record label in Century Media and have had their name discussed in many circles over the years, they remain something of an underground proposition even within the structure of black metal.
I do hold that Pariah is my favorite album from the band, though there is stiff competition in the albums both proceeding and following this. Both Sheol and especially Harvest will get time here in the future. I by no means claim to espouse the intense level of misanthropy found here but I do “get” it just the same. My time not long after this album’s release was rather dark and music like this was a release. And now from what I’ve seen of humanity in the past several years I can’t help but wonder about those nuclear fires from this record. It is scary when society starts to catch up to the dark fantasy.