Formed in 1993 by Ofermod band members Belfagor and Blackwinged, NEFANDUS approach is entirely in keeping with the tradition of ill-natured, orthodox black metal. Since the band's foundation there have been some changes in the line-up and not much releases in the past. It's been thirteen years ago since their last album 'The Nightwinds Carried Our Names' has been released in 1996. 'Death Holy Death' is their second effort and a remarkable black metal album that has has been released in 2009 by Left Hand Emanations in collaboration with Satanic Propaganda Records. NEFANDUS is attempting to make 'Death Holy Death' a varied experience, yet it's still aggressive as hell. As a bonus, the band is capable to create a dark, sullen, mysterious, scary atmosphere without being corny for the main part of the album. Straight from the start the band is firing on all cylinders and fortunately, the songs do not only residing in high-speed regions. Now and then, the pace has been scaled down to an effective mid-tempo, which pleases me very much. Thus, songs such as 'Behind the Red Lotus', 'Theli - Opposer of Life' or 'Malach Ha-Maveth' obtain more penetrating power.
The album is brimming with strong, complex riffs and chord changes in connection with thoughtful arrangements. This can be unexpectedly melodious without losing its aggressive attitude. The vocals of Belfagor are just as fierce and ungracious as it should be, while Ushatar is responsible for this plethora of high-caliber riffs. All this is embedded in a bombastically sounding production which luckily is still heavy and filthy enough for my taste. The biggest surprise here is 'Ama Lilith Opening Her Womb'. It kind of reminds me of listening to Carl Orff's 'Carmina Burana', but just because it sounds like a choral work. Lyrically NEFANDUS is dealing with Mesopotamian mythology and Jewish esotericism and thus have very little in common with the average black metal hordes. All those which are interested can take a look at the lyrics in the luxuriously designed booklet. The only thing I doesn't really like are this rarely integrated weird background vocals. Whenever they may appear, they reabsorb a large of part of the sinister aura of 'Death Holy Death'. In contrast, the Arabic vocals at the beginning of 'Samaelic Madness Code' are significantly more tolerable. In all other respects, however, this is an exceptionally good album which besides shows that Sweden is still a good ground for black metal of high quality.