Nidingr – The High Heat Licks Against Heaven

Nidingr heartbeat Morten “Teloch” Iversen is a guitarist of note in the Norwegian Black Metal scene, as not only has he racked up time in acts such as Myrkur, God Seed and Gorgoroth, he is the main songwriter for Mayhem. With such a prestigious career to date, it is little wonder that The High Heat Licks Against Heaven (Indie), Nidingr’s fourth full length, arrives with some weighty expectation behind it.

And it is an expectation that, for the most part, it most definitely meets.

‘Hangagud’ wastes no time in setting the scene as dissonant chords clash with an urgent beat and Cpt. Estrella Grasa’s more Hardcore-than-Black-Metal rasp and bellowed strains matches the urgency. Teloch’s glassy guitar tones, the sound allowing each extended chord and discordant strum clarity and a sharp nastiness, are distinctive and reminiscent of The Grand Declaration Of War (Season of Mist), shimmering fractiously as matters are stepped up a notch with the fury of ‘Surtr’. New bassist SIR disproves every myth about Black Metal four-stringers, with a slew of clever counter-riffs and lock downs in a noticeable and impressive contribution.

And yet, bear in mind that every good story has a planned, clever twist and a divergent sting in the tale. Having laid the table with aggressive, non-derivative, spiky Black(ened) Metal of good order, and after the concentrated attack of ‘On Dead Body Shore’, we suddenly tumble-down the sprawling, darkened chasm of album highlight ‘Gleipnir’, a lumbering, off-kilter nightmare that shows the true black heart of Nidingr: a heart that is about moving away from Black Metal, and dripping cancerous clots of unsettling minimalism.

So, whilst half of The High Heat Licks Against Heaven is violent, culminating in a storming ‘Valkyries Assemble’, it is interesting that Teloch proves most adept when stepping outside of the expected, especially when utilizing the talents of others. You may expect a guest vocal from Garm to be a distinctive, powerful belt à la La Masquerade Infernale (Music For Nations). Instead, his is an understated and excellent turn, adding subtle harmonies on the deliberate shadows of the crafted ‘Ash Yggdrasil’, while Amalie (Myrkur) Bruun appears on the doomy ‘Naglfar Is Loosed’, to add an ecclesiastic twist with her delicate, angelic harmonies scattered amongst the horror.

With Teloch tending to divide his compositions in two, surely the next step is to combine the violence with the convulsive and harrowing into the same works, and play with dynamics within a song, and then we could really see something special from Nidingr. That said, The High Heat… rewards repeated burrowing, and offers plenty of scope, happy to vary its attack from the raging and pounding to the disparate and disconcerting.