Natur - Head of death 4/5
1. Head of death
2. The messenger
3. Goblin shark
5. The servant
6. Vermin rift
7. Spider baby
8. Mutations in Maine
To my mind there are 2 schools of traditional heavy metal in the modern age. On the one hand, there are bands who play up to how knowingly retro it all is, with the colourful dress sense and perhaps slightly more obvious NWOBHM-channelling approach. I’m not going to call that a bad thing, as I love Enforcer and Katana among others, it just seems a bit off that no matter who comes through the revolving door in the occasionally brilliant White Wizzard, they all seem to have a penchant for aviators and headbands.
This brings us to the other side of the coin, the longer-running and more sensibly dressed bands like Wolf and Steel Tormentor where it just seems like a way of life to them, and that the style they play is suddenly finding a bit of exposure is just a fortuitous turn of events. These are the bands that seem to take a less derivative approach and show more influence from the darker and more obscure corners of the 80s, and despite their relative inexperience and place on Earache’s roster, this is where Natur fits into things.
The lengthy intro to the opening title track, which nicely sets up the full CD rather than just the one song, is a glorious rallying call in the classic Omen vein, and is a taster of the carefully crafted guitar harmonies that are a feature throughout. While there is plenty of power metal gallop to be found, there are also thunking proto-doom riffs from the Manilla Road school of thought, often wrapped together in twisting melodies that call to mind vintage Mercyful Fate. There is also some very neat drumming on display, content to keep a steady beat most of the time but on occasion exploding into thunderous rolls that give the choruses some real extra punch.
While the music could not seriously be described as being complicated, it is nonetheless cleverly arranged and deftly layered to fit a lot of different moods and styles into one song. Rather than the fast song, the ballad, the midtempo pounder, Natur tends to weave in and out of a few different key ideas to give the songs variety and depth.
They aren’t blessed with the best vocalist you’ll ever hear by any stretch of the imagination, but the lad calling himself Weibust sings with a lot of passion and variation. At times he snarls like a thrasher who has found himself fronting the wrong band and at others he offers a more despairing melodic timbre, and while the impossible range is missing, a few vocal melodies are just pure King Diamond in execution.
In keeping with the King’s teachings, the lyrics are often cryptic and occult, and something a little different from the standard “Swords! Metal! Battle!” hymn sheet. With this in mind, the creepy closer “Mutations in Maine” is a suitably Lovecraftian nightmare, conjuring pictures of the desolate New England countryside and ending the CD on a chilling note.
The vocals don’t always sit right, and a couple of the songs aren’t quite as memorable as the true stand outs, but it’s an excellent start for Natur all the same, a really well-rounded CD that flies by in no time at all and has plenty of depth to make sure it won’t be forgotten after a few spins.
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