PanzerFor those that already know this veteran band, the fact that this, their seventh full-length release (the clue is in the title) contains an all-new line-up won’t be a huge surprise. Panzerchrist has been a constantly changing collection of Danish death metal musicians for quite a while now, with only multi-instrumentalist Michael Enevoldsen to keep the band and its unique style together.

For those unfamiliar to Panzerchrist, they play a brutal, grim and fairly atmospheric blend of black and death metal. Quite why they haven’t become bigger than they are is a mystery to me – they manage to balance out and out relentless brutality with a dark, melancholic and oppressive atmosphere quite successfully, even adding a touch of melody here and there to expand on the nasty and dark proceedings. Unlike some other bands from the Danish scene, they are not content to simply copy another band, or even come up with something as musically suicidal as the dreaded `death n roll’.

This album is a real grower I have to say. At first I thought `oh it’s another black/death metal band from Scandinavia…’ but this did not do the Danish scene veterans justice. Yes, there is plenty of deadly, technical and highly accurate blasting from new sticksman Simon Schilling. He isn’t as fast and relentless as Reno Killerich, but there is power and dynamism in spades. The band have never been just about constant blasting however, in fact some of their most powerful musical moments are when they slow down to a devastating, neck breaking mid pace, which is just as evident here as on previous albums.

Where they have progressed however, is in relation to the guitars. There are of course plenty of bleak, harsh and nasty black metal aggression, similar in feel to Belphegor, as well as sharp, cutting single note riffs in the Vader tradition, but there is an extra injection of drifting, melancholic melody over most of the tracks which I feel has really added an extra dimension to their already massive sound. This doesn’t just include the fantastic, epic sounding guitar solos, but there is an overall tinge of melody which really ups their game.

The song writing really comes into its own on this release as well. This blend of death and black metal can all too easily be rendered boring and ineffective when bands try to make it too long, too repetitive or too complicated. Panzerchrist do none of these things; with a simple, hypnotic and powerful way of writing, every song leaps out of the speaks at the listener with murderous intent.

Considering this is their seventh album, Panzerchrist show no sign of slowing down, or losing their touch. With new blood comes a new wave of vitriolic nastiness, this time with added extras.

(8/10 Jon Butlin)