Nazxul - Totem (1995)

Track listing:

1. Totem
2. Watching and Withering
3. I Awaken (Amongst Them)
4. Unearthed
5. Vermis Mysteriis
6. Hatred
7. Endless Reign of Power
8. Distance Begins
9. Amidst the Flames
10. End
11. Eternum

Nazxul is a black metal band from Australia. Since its inception, this band has been shrouded in secrecy. Their releases are few and far between, with Totem being their only full-length offering to date.

Nazxul's musical style reminds of early Emperor taken to a new level of extreme aggression. Their musical style incporates intricate guitar and keyboard melodies with thrashier, more aggressive sections and distorted, evil vocals. The vocals are of particular interest, a seemingly endless array of sinister whispers and inhuman growling.

Well-suited for such an obscure project, Nazxul's lyrics touch on occult and mystical themes. The album's title track is a good example of their lyrical vision:

The seal of wonder
The mark in blood
The one true symbol
Of everlasting fear

They will find it, they will fear it
The mighty mark
In bloody merciless madness

Thy mark, my mark
The winds will speak, when the storms die

Throughout the album, Morelli and Mitchell create some truly memorable riffs and melodies, with bassist Adrian Henderson fortifying their efforts with a solid backbone. Henderson also provides tasteful, intelligent keyboards that add another dimension to the album. Backovic's vocals seem to know no bounds, assaulting the listener from every angle.

While the entire album is powerful and consistent, "I Awaken (Amongst Them)" and "Distance Begins" strike me as being particularly ferocious and powerful examples of Nazxul's musical vision. The album closes with a long interlude consisting of a recording of a thunderstorm, but Nazxul treats their fans to a new recording of "Hymn of a Dying Moon" from their demo before dissolving back into the shadows. Totem comes heavily recommended to fans of intelligent, complex black metal bands such as Abigor and Lunar Aurora, although most fans of extreme metal will find something to enjoy here.

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