Vredehammer’s combination of aggressive guitars and masterful songwriting has already rewarded the band with not only a highly critically acclaimed pair of albums but also a Norwegian Grammy nomination. The Extreme Metallers from Norway set about “Viperous” their third full-length having started out as a one man project in 2009 and for this one a new member has joins the ranks in the form of drummer Kai Speidel (Ex-Nordjevel and Totengeflüster). Per Valla (Nordjevel, Allfader, ex Abbath) handles guitar, keyboards, bass and vocals while Kristoffer Hansen plays guitar alone. Fans of the previous pair of albums will note that the band have incorporated a new musical element with the addition of 80’s horror keyboards in an attempt to make the Vredehammer sound more atmospheric than ever.
After a longer synth opening than you might expect, “Winds Of Dysphoria” is set ablaze by a cavalry of kit work that hammers nails into your skull in a fine Black Metal tradition while the dark vocals take hold like a mind control technique. Little breaks in the relentless battery allow the synths to provide some epic grandeur and when the elongated dark roar hits before the tiniest burst of technical solo, it lights the spark that says there is more to this album than meets the eye. “Aggressor” has that same Black Metal grandeur with weighty punch of atmosphere holding it together like a black cloud holding back the rain. The aggressor is a dark satanic being that wants to rip it’s victim limb from limb from the inside out. Classic Black Metal sweeping riffs expose influences beyond the endless relentless and incredibly impressive kit work that is a full work out to listen to let alone play in anyone’s book. “Suffocate All Light” turns the screw like the members of the four horsemen of the apocalypse bringing endless night to the Earth to allow the Vampires reign. A programmed atmospheric break mid song is a momentary breathing space that lingers in the background as the music builds back.
Title track “Viperous” isn’t the place you might expect to find a Metallica influenced riff but during its introduction salvo it’s right there. Probably the most varied riff attack accompanies the ripping vocals on this one with a solo that again you might not have expected. Bright, it sounds more like something from a Thrash act than one of Vredehammer’s heavier hitting nature but it’s a welcome treat. “Skinwalker” has some brilliant rise and fall riffs of the Obscura ilk and the burst into synths and drop off of the huge drum sound is another gloriously worked change up. It’s sinister overtones and dark undercurrent are great fun. “In Shadow” is a battering ram of a cut that uses some Technical Death Metal riffs to keep the intrigue levels as high as the endless headbangability – afterall, who needs a neck, right? The underpinning white noise sounds like the buzzing of an electric chair while the meloncholic synths are the dark sound of impending doom.
“Wounds” kicks up a sandstorm with Speidel showing no sense of fatigue as he batters the living daylights out of the kit. The inspirations of Stephen King are credited in the liner notes and they are plain throughout though offer the most here. Some Thrash riffs litter what is essentially a Black Metal track with the eclectic solo as technical and as on point as they come. There are a couple of ideas recycled from the earlier tracks in nuance form which build on the album as a body of work and help knit the material together. “Any Place But Home” reeks of an abusive father issuing a savage beating on the regular and the dark synth underpinning keeps the track on its trajectory before Hansen has the opportunity to deliver any of his skills. Some call it destiny others call it fate and after the false ending for a final verse there is a surprise Slipknot influenced riff that may catch you off guard. “From a Spark to a Withering Flame” has that slow burning build up that has you waiting for the thunderous kick but it doesn’t happen. Instead the end take the low road and offer a dark cut of haunting riffs and stark keys which despite the opportunity to, don’t slow down the double kicks of the drum sound. The synths and sound effects might be a little bit overdone in this final cut but it doesn’t detract from the weight and gravity of a subgenre spanning album [8/10]
1. Winds Of Dysphoria
3. Suffocate All Light
6. In Shadow
8. Any Place But Home
9. From a Spark to a Withering Flame
“Viperous” by Vredehammer will be released on 6th March and is available for pre-order over at bandcamp