Crest-of-Darkness-In-the-Presence-of-DeathScary photos and talk of death must have frightened the original reviewer who was meant to be covering this one off, luckily I am made of sterner stuff and it is going to take more than a clan of sinister corpse-painted Norwegians to put me off the task. Despite this being the bands sixth full length album since forming in 1993 I have to admit they have completely escaped my attention by all but name up until now. I have seen that they have travelled label wise from Head Not Found to Listenable and onto My Kingdom during that time and emphasis on the information provided about them is focused on the word ‘extreme,’ so without further ado let’s press play and hear just what extremities they have in store for us.

After a chilling, ice cold pulsating electronic intro sets us up and makes us shiver we rage straight into the title track for a dish of death served bloody and raw. Snarling vocals and strimming guitars are order of the day on this starter and the melody is sharp and spiky. The rasping vocals from founding member Ingar Amlien are both filthy yet paradoxically clean enough to follow what is being spat out. Sounds of war intrude as guns are fired out and the message is strong and delivered with force. I am trying to put my finger on the style here and it is as we bound into ‘Demon Child’ a nut-cracking blackened thrash assault. I am reminded a little of Italian outfit Necrodeath as well as fellow Norse clan Ragnarok as they speed along, the drumming on this one being particularly furious. With the words “you are evil” being sinisterly intoned as the track slows down going into a near psychedelic groove this for some reasons has the image of a child named Damien in my head; guess that’s the ballpark of this one firmly hit. When they go at full blasphemous blast as on ‘The Priest From Hell’ full of snarling hate COD do a good job of getting your neck snapping along in time. This is certainly not the most original sound heard before but with the rampaging pace and focus of sharp melody it would no doubt give those die-hards Nifelheim a run for their money.

Wolves and vampires are all part of the ten track thrashathon and songs are dealt with in a quick eviscerating fashion never outstaying their welcome but flailing to the finish line in a blur of motion. Screams of “Satan” and solos are all part of the game and one can only imagine that this lot are a lively bunch on stage. A crazed spoken word sermon on ‘Womb Of The Wolf is well placed and adds to the horror fuelled atmosphere. Penultimate track ‘From The Dead’ is the albums highlight for me due to the excellent guitar line, galloping mindset and infectious melody but I seriously did a double take on first hearing it as it sounds like Ice Dale and Abbath have joined in and flung out a track missed off the last I album! Throaty gurgling with doom laden morbidity sees last number ‘The Day Before She Died’ finishing things off, the drumming again is flung out at a huge velocity at odds with the rest but it works effectively well. All in all a solid album which tells me perhaps I should step back into this Crest of Darkness and discover what else is out there

(7/10 Pete Woods)