Regain Records has been on quite a roll lately re-issuing black metal classics from the 90's by bands such as Marduk, Dark Funeral, and Naglfar. Vittra is the band's debut from 1995, recorded at The Abyss studios and engineered by Peter Tagtgren. This Swedish act really shot out of the gate with this one, a highly melodic yet brutal black metal affair that started a string of solid releases that continues to this day. This was a time when the band was fronted by lead vocalist Jens Ryden, and his raging rasp fit the style of the band at this time pefectly. The dual guitar team of Morgan Hansson & Andreas Nilsson is spot on throughout Vittra, as they lay down a fair share of crisp, melodic leads amidst the pummeling, tremelo picked riffs. Guest drummer Matte Holmgren contributes some fiery and energetic blast beats througout, and he worked well alongside the rumbling bass from Kristoffer Olivins (who became their future lead singer after Ryden left the band years later). Naglfar have always sprinkled a little bit of keyboards in their songs, used to great effect on "Eclipse of Infernal Storms", but it's more to add a little atmosphere than anything else. "Emerging from Her Weepings" has a strong Viking feel, mixed with some complex Iron Maiden styled instrumental passages, and the cold & epic sounding "Exalted Above Thrones" contains some icy, cavernous guitar riffs and plenty of venemous vocals.
The Iron Maiden comparison is interesting as one of the bonus tracks on this reissue is a raw demo version of the band covering "The Evil That Men Do", a rather interesting take I might add. Musically, it's very similar to Maiden's, but of course you have Ryden growling and screaming in place of Dickinson's melodic vocals. Hearing them tear through Kreator's "Pleasure to Kill" is something to check out as well.
Production wise, Tagtgren did a fine job on this one, and even throws in some backing vocals on a few songs. Now 12 years after its release, Vittra still holds up quite well next to many of the other black metal gems that came out around the same time, and is among the gems of the Naglfar catalog.
1. As the Twilight Gave Birth to the Night
2. Enslave the Astral Fortress
3. Through the Midnight Spheres
4. Eclipse of Infernal Storms
5. Emerging from Her Weepings
6. Failing Wings
8. Sunless Dawn
9. Exalted Above Thrones
10. 12th Rising -bonus track
11. Evil That Men Do -bonus track
12. Pleasure to Kill -bonus track