Those of you who are sharp of eye, pointy of ear, and patient enough to wade through my last rant about Facebook’s business model will have already felt the chill of Minnesota’s Nuklear Frost. But simply using the hair-raising shriek from the intro track “Uranium Censer” to express my own contempt (and to reward the perseverance of readers) was hardly an adequate tribute to an album that I’ve listened to and enjoyed repeatedly since it came out in mid-March.
The album’s name is Subjugation, and I first found out about it through a Facebook link to their music by Amiensus, another Minnesota band who share a member with Nuklear Frost (guitarist Joe Waller). It proved to be a great discovery.
Nuklear Frost deliver riveting melodic black metal that hits like a maelstrom in full fury, yet the songs are so packed with righteous riffs and ominous melodies that the music exerts a strong magnetic attraction. The songs have identity and staying power; it’s an album that will draw you back again and again, and not simply for the pure rush it delivers to all good adrenaline junkies.
The production on the album is as sharp as knives, which is a big plus, because the musicians are all worth hearing. The scything tremolo chords thresh and slash with tremendous force, the thundering/blasting drums are spine-jarring, and the deep grinding bass tone is skull-crushing all by itself.
Nuklear Frost’s vocalist is also plainly a man possessed — and possessed of considerable range and visceral force (as well as by demons). He veers from deep, harrowing howls to skin-flaying shrieks, to vehement imperialistic proclamations, as the demons move him. There’s even an Eastern-influenced monastic chant in the album’s closing track.
The songs are also wonderfully dynamic. Nuklear Frost break their breakneck rampages at just the right moments, delivering softer (but no less threatening) instrumental interludes — brief breathers that only enhance the savagery of the raging storms that follow them. For a Grade A example of this strategy, check out the opening minutes of “The Failure of Altruism”.
But what makes the album especially compelling is the band’s knack for concocting gripping melodies — always baleful and often infernally forbidding — and integrating them seamlessly into the vehement ferocity of their assaults.
For lovers of bands such as Dissection and Naglfar, Subjugation is a must-listen. It came out of nowhere, so to speak, but it’s one of the most appealing black metal albums I’ve heard this year. It’s very hard for me to pick a favorite song, but if you want to get a sense of whether the album is your kind of thing, check out “Theist Holocaust”.
Subjugation is available for $5 on Bandcamp. Physical copies (both disc and cassette) will be forthcoming through Tridroid Records.