Nocturnal Will

Wolves Of Hades
rating icon 9 / 10

Track listing:

01. Irjala
02. Nocturnal Fire
03. Ember and Ash
04. Utmed Gyllbergens Stig
05. As Death Comes Reaping
06. Celestial Will

We all know it when we feel it: that euphoric rush that accompanies the arrival of a truly special heavy metal record into your life. Even in these jaded, desensitized and idiotic times, the very best heavy music can cut through the noise like a laser through dogshit. The fourth album from Sweden's low-key masters of blackened crust, "Nocturnal Will" is exactly that kind of record. The band's grubby aesthetic remains intact from their previous three full-lengths, but this time DÖDSRIT are audibly in the midst of their own moment of revelation.

Six songs deep and relentlessly exhilarating, it transcends black metal entirely, and is dominated by riffs and guitar hooks that owe more to IRON MAIDEN than they do to the underground. Each melodic thread is then woven into a hypnotic and grandiose wall-of-sound that remains tangibly underpinned by snot-nosed, hardcore punk belligerence. Within a few minutes of the opening "Irjala", DÖDSRIT are in such a sublime, as-metal-as-hell groove, that it becomes impossible to do anything but succumb to the uproarious, windswept thrill of it all.

There were a few moments on previous DÖDSRIT albums that hinted at their true potential, but even with 2021's acclaimed "Mortal Coil" in mind, the leap the band have made here is still extraordinary. "Irjala" is a formidable statement of intent. Worth every one of its ten minutes, it weaves post-rock reveries and bursts of berserker hostility into wave after wave of briskly undulating heavy metal majesty. Each new melody surpasses the last, as songs build higher and higher, towards imperious endings that threaten to never arrive. Even the marginally more succinct likes of "Nocturnal Fire" and "Celestial Will" are so dense with heroic hooks and pinpoint shifts of pace and mood, that getting lost in DÖDSRIT's bravura maelstrom may feel more of a duty than a risk. The astonishing solo at the end of "Nocturnal Fire" is worth the price of admission alone.

It is to DÖDSRIT's eternal credit that they have gained a lot and lost nothing here. Songs like the stately but murderous "Ember and Ash" and my personal hot tip, the dark, rapacious "As Death Comes Reaping", blur the lines between many strains of bombastic, melancholy heathen metal, while never forgetting to smash a few heads together when necessary. With several moments that strip away the uproar to plaintive, acoustic minimalism, "Nocturnal Will" is convincingly subtle and delicate when it needs to be, but at heart this is a triumph for widescreen musical thinking, and the most absurdly stirring 40 minutes of heavy fucking metal to reach our ears so far this year (with respect to JUDAS PRIEST). Virtually flawless, this may ensure that DÖDSRIT are forcibly dragged from the underground, whether they like it or not. A major album of the year contender.

Author: Dom Lawson
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