The High Heat Licks Against Heaven by Nidingr

Release date: February 10, 2017
Label: Indie Recordings

Nidingr features Mayhem virtuoso guitarist Teloch, but the riffs on their latest full-length album, The High Heat Licks Against Heaven, are not remotely similar to Mayhem’s opus Esoteric Warfare, and are in fact simpler and more straight-forward. Nidingr is not a band that plays dark, obscure underground black metal of the kvlt variety, the sort of music that titillates fans of bands like Teitanblood and Revenge. This is modern black metal that isn’t rendered cheapingly mediocre in the sense of the word, mainstream. The production is shiny on Nidingr’s latest album, The High Heat Licks Against Heaven, and the musicianship is conveyed clearly as a result. The band was wise to pursue this approach, as the other instruments be given a fair share of the stage to properly showcase the band’s own authentic style of play.

There’s obviously some progressive touches to the songwriting, and no song is strikingly simple in structure. While some of the riffs may merge progressive and accessible styles, the band makes music that many will not find polarising. The vocal delivery here is comprised of a clearly enunciated approach that features some rasp, and while it is aggressive, is not typical of Norwegian black metal at all. To their defence, Nidingr doesn’t aim to regurgitate more Norwegian black metal tribute with The High Heat Licks Against Heaven. The vocals remind me of those used by Mastodon, and the cover art even shows some merit to that comparison. The High Heat Licks Against Heaven isn’t dark, alienating underground music that is cavernous and misanthropic. The music is easier for mainstream fans to appreciate, while also appealing to fans of bands who prefer more obscure underground black metal. On record, the bright, hi-fi production is suitable for the music, but some fans who favour necro approaches to sound engineering will find Nidingr’s to be altogether distasteful. That would be a shame, since the production suits what the band intends to showcase on The High Heat Licks Against Heaven, and shinier digital production is usually the de facto option major labels preach to their bands to use on records.

All attempts at comparison aside, Nidingr is a black metal band I can confidently say I like, and The High Heat Licks Against Heaven is original, quality black metal that is punchy and heavy, thanks to the production. The songwriting allows some dissonance to off-set catchier riffs, and the drums are quite audible in contrast to underground bands that at worst, feature only cymbal crashes as percussion, or blunt the bass drum parts in the mix resulting in the outright irritation of most fans. At some length, the music steers away from intent listening, and sounds likeable enough for a casual listening session instead. The album opener, ‘Hangaguð’, blasts away to the obvious delight of fans who favour uptempo black metal. The vocal choir used in closing track, ‘Naglfar is Loosed’, is a nice touch, and the shred/double bass kick section on track nine, ‘Valkries Assemble’, is nicely headbang-friendly.

To close this review, Nidingr’s The High Heat Licks Against Heaven is quality black metal art. The album may not be distinctly melancholic or meditative, but it is intense on most occasions, and the music is uptempo for fans who like the heavier and more progressive styles of black metal efforts. Not incendiary or polarising, The High Heat Licks Against Heaven sufficiently entertains fans of modern black metal, and proves that Nidingr can rouse the drifters from sleep if only for the length of time the album blasts, shreds, and tremolo picks to levels beyond sameness and monotony. For fans of modern production and progressive black metal, there can be few desirable records to choose from. For a combination of the two, this album has to be in the thick of it.

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