With various bands across Europe and North America in particular under the spotlight over the past decade or so, an argument can be made that the reigning throne of black metal no longer has a solidified post as it once did during the glory days during the 1990s. But, for the old school die-hards who still cherish the time of Mayhem and Darkthrone, there is a monumental scene happening in the birthplace of black metal. At the spear-head of this movement is an underground scene consisting of a group of seasoned veterans who have created some of the most potent, powerful, energetic and dark black metal I have ever heard outside of De Mysteriis Dom Sathanas and Under a Funeral Moon.
Whether it be Whoredom Rife, Mork, Vemod, Mare etc, Norway is once again unleashing the fire we have all grown accustomed too. Which brings us to Djevel. a band that has been relatively unspoken of in the big picture of black metal for some time, especially considering Faust (who played on Emperor’s masterpiece In the Nightside Eclipse) is behind the kit, despite releasing some of the better black metal records for a better part of the last decade.
Djevel have been on my radar since 2018’s Blant Svarte Graner and while I have thoroughly enjoyed each release since, it wasn’t until 2021’s Tanker som rir natten that I became obsessed. With the addition of Kvitrim into the fold, Djevel became an entirely new entity. Whether or not he truly had a major hand in the writing process is beyond my knowledge, but a new dynamic was born and the music flourished because of it. T. Ciekals’s songwriting reached captivating and majestic heights, Faust’s drumming became as meditative as it was impactful, and with the brooding fog-soaked vocals of Kvitrim, Tanker som rir natten captured my imagination.
Fast-forward a year later, and Djevel waste absolutely no time in continuing the momentum and release 2022’s Naa skrider natten sort. A move that I truly believe will only benefit them and not saturate their discography in any way. When you’re hot, you ride the wave as long as possible. To me, this album is an instant modern classic, and dare I say a true masterpiece. It flows seemlessly from start to finish and there is not one single moment where it strays off course. Masterfully crafted, it harkens back to the originators of the genre while very much standing on it´s own two feet. There is no plagiarism, no filler nor cheap pandering. Djevel prove that they are not a band that are simply standing on the backs of giants, but a band that have something unique to offer the genre and grasp closely to their chests an individual identity.
The atmosphere on this album is a thick as the fog that sweeps across the beautiful and dreary landscapes of their homeland depicted on the album cover, and it truly perfectly and genuinely represents the music that accompanies it. Despite the cold and frozen vibe of the cover, the production is very warm and as vast as the great oceans that inspired the adventures of their sea-faring ancestors. A far cry from the frigid and harsh productions that black metal is famously known for. The acoustic passages that appear throughout create a great dynamic with the heavier black metal drive that dominates the overall sound. Having sections of volume that drop into placid calming sections of acoustic guitars really make the impact of the riffs that much more powerful. The subtle yet noticeable blanket of keyboards overlaying on top of everything just pushes the atmosphere over the edge, as does the impeccable moments of clean chanting and singing.
The saying “less is more” certainly has it’s place here. This album is not re-inventing the wheel, or delivering something new, because it doesn’t have too. Simply put, Djevel are doing nothing more than holding high the torch of those who came before them and adding their own personal mark into the totem of black metal without the need for useless gimmicks, studio tricks or false notions of what black metal should be in an age where outsiders who don’t belong are trying to force modern politics and social viewpoints on a style of music that was birthed out of rebellion, anger and a desire to stand as an individual, well before they were born. Naa skrider natten sort is the album to beat in 2022, and I truly don’t believe anyone is going to be able to top it.