Grafvitnir - NâHásh [Clavis Secretorvm - 2020]NâHásh is the debut album by Swedish black metal band Grafvitnir. Originally released in 2012 through Drapskunst Records, this album has now been granted a second life on vinyl and CDR thanks to the Italian Clavis Secretorvm label. To this day (five full-lengths further down the abyss) Grafvitnir has always stuck with their brand of highly atmospheric and melodic black metal. They have yet to disappoint in their delivery as well; I’ve found each release to be of at least good quality, and it’s certainly been a pleasure for me to revisit this impressive debut release.
Describe a band using the word “melodic”, and I usually go running for the hills. Too often do black metal bands weaken the impact of their music with fretboard jerk sessions and an unstoppable urge to include folklorish faery dairy elements into their songs. However, the really good bands do find a way to use melody efficiently, to purvey the ambient with a sincere sort of drama and emotion. Where it strengthens, not weakens. Grafvitnir, without doubt, belongs to the latter. Shards of solos, higher region tremolo riffing, nervous escapes from the main riffs,…it’s all here but it’s executed perfectly, at the right moments, never overstaying its welcome. It enhances rather than deteriorates the tracks. And what are the tracks? Relentless, in-your-face black metal violence. Things go forward and rarely take a breather. The drummer sounds like he really had a good night’s rest, and maybe a few lines of whatnot before he sat down on his stool. Drums are fast, straightforward attacks on your tranquillity. The guitars sound amazing; even during the constant aggressive full-on assaults of the drums every guitar riff can be heard clearly. The riffs themselves don’t let themselves really be remembered all too easily, but this kind of music doesn’t work like that either. Here, a certain type of hateful ambient has to be created and maintained, and the guitars do get that job done throughout the whole album. The singer utilises a high hissing “serpent’s tongue” type of voice, a favorite shared by many black metal bands. He’s never really screaming but certainly keeping things raspy and interesting enough. Another fine addition to an outstanding sound. Downside? The frivolous melodrama that starts around the four minute mark of the fifth track, Beyond The Black Veil of Da’at. Honestly, I feel the track would have worked ten times better if they just skipped that part.
Despite that minor criticism, I think it is safe to say that with NâHásh Grafvitnir really did make a very strong debut album, an album which would be the start of a series of high quality albums. If you like your black metal not too necro, torturous or suicidal; but it’s still too early for Epic Odin Hour as well; a straightforward, slightly melodic quality band like Grafvitnir might be just what you need.Damien De Coene