It seems that as a band ages, the more likely it is for them to take other genres and influences and incorporate them into their music. In the case of Blasphemer, the opposite is true. For their debut album, Sweden’s Neglektum has abandoned the progressive leanings of its demo and come to embrace a purer, fairly melodic form of black metal.
Blasphemer isn’t groundbreaking in anyway. It’s resplendent with melodic tremolo riffs, blast beats, and rasps we’ve all heard before, but they’re done so well it’s impossible to ignore. From the crunchy opening riffs and mournful, ending solo of “Blasphemer” to the triumphant, charging tremolo leads of “Infernal Declaration of Hate”, Azargoth’s guitar work takes the front seat as is only right. His tight riffage and highly competent solos are executed with the skill of a veteran and carry the songs. His chosen vocal style is typically a hoarser rasp tinged with a hysterical edge, which is all fine and dandy, but where he really stands out are his screams, which are unfortunately only featured on “Babalon”, an otherwise run of the mill track. Isedor shows he can handle a drum kit as well as anyone and changes from blast beats to slower, rhythmic and almost tribal sections with ease. His bass work is largely inaudible save for short passages when the guitars take a break. It’s not particularly adventurous, but then again the entire album isn’t either. It’s all about playing black metal and playing it right, which these two Swedes pull off with aplomb.
The production is surprisingly good for a self-released debut and the mixing is done very well, save for slightly too loud snare hits. Blasphemer shows a good understanding of pace and songwriting, and the general mid to fast pace of the album is broken up by slower parts of songs and the aptly named acoustic track, “Salvation” as well as the short piano piece “Dies Irae Pt.1”. The flow from the previously mentioned track to “Pt.2” isn’t very smooth, but the melodic riffs catch your attention and quickly cause you to forget about your momentary discomfort.
Neglektum’s Blasphemer is one of those special albums that does nothing new, but because it’s done so well you can’t help but to like it. The only real issue is consistency. While most of the tracks are great, “Begotten Son (Forgotten)” and “Babalon” are fairly average and hold the album back from reaching its full potential. Thankfully, “Infernal Declaration of Hate”, “Death’s Curse”, and “Dies Irae Pt.2” more than make up for the weaker tracks and make for a great album overall. All in all, Blasphemer is a release Neglektum can be proud of and is made all the more impressive for being a debut, and is sure to please fans of more melodic black metal.