Finnish black metal is in a rude state of health at the moment with bands such as Horna, Sargeist, Archgoat, Baptism and several others all being on permanent rotation for me….. I will now be adding Riivaus to that list.

Prior to receiving this for review, I had not heard of Riivaus, and this perturbed me a little as a self proclaimed black metal aficionado. However, after some digging, and realising that they had previously only released a demo tape (limited to 200) in 2012, I didn’t feel quite so bad!

‘Lyöden Taudein Ja Kirouksin’ is the unholy spawn of Hoath Daemnator, who takes sole responsibility for unleashing this blasphemous racket upon us, and is everything you would expect from a Finnish black metal release over the course of 34 unholy minutes.

The album does away with the clichéd intro, just building a guitar riff over the course of the opening 12 seconds before the drums kick in along with a feral howl and pulsating rhythms making a statement of intent. It’s not long before surprisingly captivating melodies appear amidst the maelstrom. This is the blueprint for the album which continues on ‘Uhrirovio’ as melody entwines with primitive aggression. During this track, the rasping vocals brought to mind Italian outfit Evenfall (The vocal style is where the comparison ends!).

‘Pakanamalja’ ups the ante with its more straight forward barrage, increasing the intensity as it goes straight for the jugular. The tempo slows a little for the sinister melody which runs through ‘Alkemisti’. While listening to this it struck me that while I have no idea what the lyrics are about (they are all in Finnish), it was conjuring up images of dark alleys and serial killers.

‘Vihan Temppeli’ is suitably uncompromising as it barrages along at breakneck speed, suitably unhinged and threatening to fall off the rails at any point before ‘Tuhkasade’ continues the manic onslaught with a full on black metal assault interspersed with beguiling melodies, bringing this heinous sermon to an abrupt end.

This is a real gem of the Finnish black metal underground and has cleverly managed to capture the requisite intransigent ferocity while entwining this with mesmerising melodies.

(9/10 Andy Pountney)