Black metal has morphed into so many different shapes and been subjected to so much cross-breeding with other genres that it has become refreshing to hear a band who hew to old ways, and do it as masterfully as Naudiz. But even that observation begs the question: what old ways? Because second-wave black metal itself expanded and twisted into different thorn-covered branchings.
While I’m usually reluctant to mention the names of other bands in describing a new release, for fear that I’ll either hear an influence no one else hears or imply a lack of originality in the release at hand, I’ll say that while Naudiz‘s new album Wulfasa Kunja pulls from different black well-springs, I thought most often of Darkthrone‘s stylistic shift on The Cult Is Alive, and the venomous, swaggering riffs of Taake.
But you’ll be able to judge for yourselves, because in advance of the album’s release this Friday (April 14th) by Iron Bonehead Productions, we’re presenting a full stream of the album today.
Naudiz are an Italian trio, but you wouldn’t guess that from their outward trappings. Students of Norse pagan myths will recognize the names, places, and events referenced in the band’s song titles. The lyrics are themselves in the ancient Norse language. And the music itself is firmly rooted in the old savagery of Norwegian black metal.
Wulfasa Kunja is the kind of album that would work supremely well if you came across it with your music player on “shuffle”. It wouldn’t matter what song popped up at random — every one of them can stand alone, and stand strong. Every song exhibits dynamic pacing and rhythmic diversity. Every one of them comes alive with magnetically catchy riffs and grim melodic hooks. And the vocals are uniformly charismatic in their untrammeled barbarism.
All the ingredients in the music are formidable when considered in isolation, and important to the overall very favorable impression left by the album, so it’s difficult to say that the appeal of Naudiz is chiefly explained by any one of them. Certainly, the riffs are persistently vibrant, whether they’re racing and slashing, slowing to a brooding, poisonous slither, writhing in a fury, or rocking out (as they often do).
The band’s rhythm section is just as capable, and the production gives their sound a lot of low-end punch — the music has guts and balls to spare (no necro hissing in this production). Together, the deep bass pulse and razor-sharp drumwork move the music (and turn it on a dime) from ferocious blasting to punk-influenced rockers to lurching, mid-paced stomps. All the while, regardless of the tempo or the rhythmic groove, the music is venomous and bleak, grim and gritty, bloodthirsty and feral.
Speaking of bloodthirsty and feral, let’s go back to the vocals: They’re utterly vile — a mix of harsh, tyrannical proclamations, gut-punching grunts, and toxic snarls with the texture of a metal rasp. No shrieking here, just the predatory blood-lust of some ravenous beast.
I don’t need to pick any one song in the stream below for you to use as a test. As mentioned earlier, they’re all strong. Pick any one of them, and if it strikes a chord with you, you’re going to enjoy all the others.
Wulfasa Kunja features excellent cover art by Timo Ketola. It will be released on April 14th by Iron Bonehead. For more info, check the links below.