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It's no surprise that Naglfar's albums have never seemed entirely focused -- hampered as they were by ongoing side-projects and therefore given to long periods of inactivity. This is certainly the case with their second effort, 1998's Diabolical, which competently delivers the quintet's brand of thrashy black metal, but offers very little in the way of innovation or outright thrills. Workmanlike to the Nth degree, rapid-fire onslaughts like "Horncrowned Majesty" and "Diabolical -- The Devil's Child" possess ample doses of hell-bent fury (think Marduk or Dissection) but little else, rarely showing the kind of personality that would distinguish them from the blackened Scandinavian masses. More elaborate, dynamically diverse numbers, such as "Embracing the Apocalypse," "Into the Cold Voids of Eternity," and "A Departure in Solitude" fare somewhat better with their orchestrated keyboard passages and atmospherically creepy guitar harmonies, but likewise fall well short of the truly groundbreaking groups in the scene, like Enslaved or Dimmu Borgir. Listeners looking to have their minds blown with unique black metal inspiration should therefore look elsewhere, but those simply asking for a good, old-fashioned head-bang will like this just fine.

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