If you’re a baseball fan (which I am), you’re likely celebrating pitchers and catchers reporting to spring training this week. We’re excited to see stars return, just as in metal we’re all aflutter to welcome new albums from Overkill, Immolation, and other seasoned vets in 2017. Hope springs eternal with sports and music obsession (although the latter lets you down less frequently…).
Beyond these known stars are the prospects, and for every hyped youngster with huge expectations and moments of anticipation, there are 20 relative unknowns providing pleasant surprises. On debut EP Sluagh, Ireland’s Naddred falls into the latter category. Nothing here is quite incredible, but it’s all at least damn listenable. More than that, however, are the real signs that they have an ear for the little details of the metal game, a quality that speaks well for their future.
At their core, Naddred is a black metal band, but they approach the genre from a point both modern and regressive. Modern because their hugely echoing atmosphere calls to mind the current slate of cavernous black/death, but regressive because they largely forgo the cacophonous maelstrom of much of that style, instead providing a methodic, almost doomy vibe to their songwriting. The result is basically Faustcoven filtered through Behemoth and Teitanblood; malevolent, kinda bizarre, and surprisingly rocking.
The band’s real potential is most evident in their ever-so-slight bits of variety. At times, they show off a touch of cocky swagger (hefty hooks in opener “Four Crowned Prince of Hell”), and at others drop a huge riff hammer (moments that would make Matt Pike proud in the title track), all while maintaining a fairly consistent mood. The latter two songs don’t land quite as well as those first couple, but they still show the band changing things up a tad, with “The Beast Walks the Earth” diving completely into eerie atmosphere, and “The Dullahan” providing a bit more pummeling.
As stated, Sluagh isn’t likely to blow anyone away, but it does just enough right, and in just unique enough of a way, that it ought to find some enthusiastic ears. The real quality of the EP, however, is in boosting Naddred’s prospect status. As with all bands that have a fun cup of coffee in the majors, there’s no telling if they’ll be able to turn this into an all-star season, but the pieces are certainly in place. Fingers crossed.