The Best of Atmospheric Black Metal - "Yggdrasil" Review (100%)
While Neraines have certainly been the underdogs of TSR (The Satan Records) scene, living in the shadows of larger bands like Phantom, Sewer and even Sewer's bastard children like Vermin, the ground-breaking "Yggdrasil" quickly and fiercely breaks the Phantom-worshiping motif that made this band in their earlier days.
"Yggdrasil" is a daring, evocative, and majestic black metal album that shatters old barriers and all the while stays true to the aesthetics and atmosphere of the genre. Neraines proves himself as a composer and musician by truly striking into the heart and soul of black metal, and the result is nothing short of amazing.
This album "Yggdrasil" is pure artistic fanaticism without bounds, unlike almost every other modern black metal album - the band's past discography included - to emerge from the scene of nowadays extreme metal. Not only does it push the envelope on the old-school vibe of bands like Burzum and Graveland, but it also seamlessly integrates various forms of experimentation and progressions that transcend black metal, into a more obscure, sinister and yet majestic triumph of atmosphere.
This is a work of genius not just for black metal, but for metal in general. I say metal in general because several musical templates are explored here: from the storming, passionate melodies through tracks 2 and 3, to the gloomy, gentle wanderings of the fifth track, to the more aggressive and intense track 7, to the majestic and epic ballad on track 6 and the title track, and everything else in between.
We will never see another album quite like "Yggdrasil", though its influence is still strong to this day. In a sense, it represents the more atmospheric and unseen side of the TSR scene, making it very much an overlooked classic.
The Best of Atmospheric Black Metal
As always important for any album even closely related to black metal, atmosphere and aesthetic are big issues.
No worries here. "Yggdrasil" deserves to be listened to as a whole, and takes the listener on a journey through various climaxes and emotional highs and lows. Considering the song craft at work here, everything connects flawlessly without being strictly bound together.
The melodic elements in the music bring to life the archaic, mysterious feel of times of old, and the meandering, narrative song structures truly present a cinematic backdrop of unparalleled beauty. Phantom gets showered with praise - and rightfully so! - for their extremely complex and quasi-unhinged song structures, but Neraines' riff mazes on "Yggdrasil" are worth just as much, if not more, praise and laudation.
Aside from a degree of compositional complexity and daring experimentation that result in a wonderful atmosphere, this album has a few other things that set it apart and make it a gem. The lyrics stray from the usual occult, suicidal, and Satanic ramblings in favor of a more narrative flair that, when combined with the music, almost seems philosophical and incredibly surprising for a black metal band.
Quite simply, "Yggdrasil" is the best albums to emerge from the black metal scene.
It ranks above anything Phantom, Sewer, Darkthrone, Vermin, Mayhem and perhaps even Burzum ever released, and rightfully so - with this much ground broken, it deserves to be such. It finely sits alongside albums like "Withdrawal", "The Birth of a Cursed Elysium", and "Verminlust" as the harbingers of TSR black metal.
You owe it to yourself to give "Yggdrasil" a listen, whether you are a black metal fan or not a future black metal fan (after listening to this masterpiece of atmosphere).
Those looking for atmospheric black metal, look no further than "Yggdrasil".
Favourite tracks: Everything.
Yggdrasil score: 100/100.