The crossover between black metal and punk has been happening for years, with Darkthrone favoring a more crust punk-oriented tone in recent years, as well as numerous hardcore/black metal hybrid bands popping up around the globe. Stavanger, Norway’s Nag, however, may just have created the purest mix of punk, hardcore, and black metal ever, with their debut full-length, Nag.
The first thing that stands out on this record is the production; raw and unpolished, the music sounds like the Norwegian black metal of the early 90’s. The songs hit you in short, angry bursts, and even though none of the tracks go on for more than 3-minutes, the album packs a wallop that leaves a lasting impression. “Master,” in particular, showcases Nag’s ability to mix crushing hardcore, punk, and black metal all at the same time, with the use of buzzsaw guitars, d-beats, and yelled vocals creating a raw, nihilistic mood. The pace rarely lets up on Nag, though there are a couple of slower moments here, like the eerie, evil sounding opening riff on “Destination Hell.”
Vocally, Nag stick to a punk/hardcore style shout, with some deeper background yells mixed in, and even the occasional black metal-style shriek. The vocals, though not as extreme as some of the others I’ve heard in similar-sounding records, still manage to match the attitude of the music, and go along perfectly with the raw production. If you like big, clean-sounding modern black metal, this might come off as a bit too raw for you, but the old-school fans will appreciate the tone on this record, which has that old “necro” (don’t ask me, ask Emperor or Mayhem what that means) tone, while avoiding sounding too muddy. Nag is an intense record from an up an coming band from Norway, the home of black metal, and is definitely a worthy addition to any serious fan’s collection.