Stop. Vredehammer time. I was going to try and resist it, but sometimes a mental impulse is too damned strong to resist. Now, I don’t know about you, but I had no idea what a “Vrede” was, but thanks to the magic of Google translate, it turns out to be Norwegian for “Wrath”. Hence, translated, Vredehammer are “Wrathhammer” in English, which, as it turns out, is a pretty accurate description for what appears in this 35 minute long album.
Vredehammer are from Norway, and I picked them to review essentially on the basis that Per Valla is an ex-live member of Abbath (the band), and as I am partial to that kind of music, I wondered if Vredehammer might be in some way similar. A three piece crew, with Stone on bass and … erm… Felix (I’m guessing the cool metal name cupboard in Norway was bare) on drums, the band make a sound that is entirely larger than their retinue might suggest. At heart, this is blackened death metal, with a very obvious black metal influence primarily in the speed of the riffing, which is generally – though not exclusively – relayed at a speed somewhere need the speed of light.
Opener “Light the fucking sky” is a fairly ferocious statement of intent, bombast and fury wrapped up in a solid, icily delivered death metal style. Vocally, Valla’s vocals hover somewhere between the deep, gravelly growl usually found in death metal, with the raspy delivery that the less kvlt black metal might deliver. However, it’s in the less ferocious moments that the music really gets a chance to shine, and produce some knock-out tunes that I could imagine are going to be killer live, such as the all-attitude-and-atmosphere bombast of title track “Violator”, or the lurching sprawl of the tricky “Deadfall”, which sounds like the song is always on the verge of falling into chaos, but manages to keep the dizzying, vertigo-inducing pace going.
While it’s tricky to single out a band member who is particularly worthy of attention, given that all of the song writing is so sharp and polished, I would say that the drumming is really impressive, such as in the introduction to “Ursus”, which manages to combine the athleticism and breathless pace of extreme metal with more than a touch of the drum heroics of prime Mikkey Dee. The album has a really full, punchy production – though I would have perhaps liked slightly more of a crisper tone on the guitar, which can tend to be hidden a bit against the grunty bottom-end here and there.
As an album though, this is really hard to fault – with seven great tracks delivered in an altogether efficient and well-crafted 35 minutes. I think they’re a band that can really carve a niche out for themselves here, and I’d really like to see them playing live over in the UK. This is certainly an album that you should check out if you want a thoroughly professional and catchy slab of nasty blackened death.
(7.5/10 Chris Davison)