This is the creepiest local release I’ve ever reviewed, by far. The opening track “An Ode to Horror and Dismay” is like a modern day rendition of something from the Phantom of the Opera soundtrack, only with unsettling screaming in the background and such.
“Ode” seamlessly transitions into “Scent”, which is a page straight out of Tristania’s book. Back in 1999, Tristania released an album called Beyond the Veil. If you know of this album, then you’ve got a real feel for where Nazgul is going with their latest album, Enigmatic Tales of the Haunted Realm. The clash between the clean vocals and harsh vocals is uncanny. This is probably because they use a ton of effects on their clean vocal parts throughout good chunks of the album. Granted, Nazgul prides themselves on being avant-garde, I personally could’ve done with fewer vocal effects/filters and samples of screams/orgasms/random creepy stuff, but to each their own.
Don’t get me wrong. Musically and vocally, this is a strong experimental release. It’s quite the journey throughout. Everyone involved pulls their weight and stands out in their own way. The synth/piano parts are enchanting and well placed, the guitars toggle back and forth between heavy low end and melancholic clean progressions when needed and the rhythm section is first rate. The harsh vocals remind me of Immortal’s work on Sons of Northern Darkness and the clean vocals make me think, My Dying Bride.
“Poisonous Nectars” is an interesting track. Incidentally, it’s the one we plan on using for our 2016 compilation of local metal artists. This has all the heavy Tristania sounding riffing, harsh black metal vocals and then a random (yet fitting), Egyptian sounding section, complete with flutes and percussion that sounds like it could be bongos, etc.
“Neon Stars” is a real pleasure to listen to after taking in the first few tracks. It’s got tasty leads, dark tremolo riffs and lots of grimy harsh vocals to really get the diversity of the album fully underway for the listener. It’s my personal favorite. It still dips in and out of clean guitar parts, but it’s got the strongest vibe overall for me. It just seems like the most “confident” song.
“A Vast Consumption of Succulent Marrow” in my opinion, really brings out the Cradle of Filth in Nazgul. I’m not against that in any way, but while this reminds me of some newer Cradle stuff, I guess I was kind of hoping for more from the Midian era. Again, I’m not upset with the track, I just find myself craving more older Dimmu, older Cradle or Immortal sounding stuff by this point in the album.
As things continue to mosey along on their merry way, the diversity just keeps on hitting you. From my perspective, if this is your first Nazgul experience, you won’t get a glimpse at the entire face of this band until track 8 or 9. I think it’s awesome that a band can tie so many different elements together in each song without exposing their full hand until so late in an album. In terms of synth and clean vocals, there are even some Rammstein sounding moments in the later tracks. If you’re into the Herzeleid or Mutter albums at all, you’ll hear what I mean in Nazgul’s “Seven Suns”.
“Auroras (The False Consciousness)” has hands down, the best intro on the album. It’s the hardest hitting, most epic black metal sounding intro they have in their entire discography as far as I’m concerned and it immediately grabs your attention. And although it is very black metal, it still has the traditional Nazgul avant- garde feel that separates them from the pack.
There’s a bonus track called “The Hearse Song” that I won’t spoil for you. Just think of that scene in The Addams Family when Gomez and Morticia are whipping knives at each other while dancing in the ballroom and you’re there!
All in all, I give Enigmatic Tales of the Haunted Realm a solid 8/10. Personally, I’m not into a ton of vocal effects and samples as I said earlier, but if you can get around that stuff, this is a really fun, haunting (yes, I went there), listen.
Thanks for reading!