I first came across Black Viper by random selection on an internet music platform and subsequently bought their ‘Storming with Vengeance’ cassette. Black Viper are Norwegian, from Oslo specifically and bridge the balance between classic heavy and speed metal. Drummer Cato Stormoen recorded some instrumental tracks way back in 2013, but they did not suit his other band Deathhammer. Hence, Black Viper was born.

From the opener ‘Hellions of Fire’, there is a classic US metal nod in the opening and closing sections of the track, with the speed metal burst happily plugging in your senses in between. The PR material refers to Savage Grace and Agent Steel, which are certainly good reference points; I would also throw in the young British band Seven Sisters too. Pure fast heavy metal continues with ‘Metal Blitzkrieg’ and takes you to quarters you thought had long been forgotten. As some of the current crop are hell bent on paying tribute to the past, this actually sounds fresh and new, not a retrospective pat on the back at all. The straighter heavy metal masterclass is really evident on ‘Quest for Power / The Fountain of Might’. These merged pieces feature storming sections of sing along lines, verses and a behemoth of traditional metal guitar wizardry. But if you love you pure speed metal, the classic speed metal without the blackness, I would really recommend ‘Suspiria’. This is a track that gets your heart racing and your fists pumping.

The tracks can be quite lengthy, but there aren’t any moments where your attention or patience is tested, the mark of quality on this release really does the band credit. Black Viper may reference a lot of US bands as an influences, I would also include classic German speed metal. The talent is here, Black Viper kicks your arse from pillar to post, from start to finish on this release and the more times you play it, the more involved you can become. This album features three tracks from their demo, the re-recordings do justice and it does sound fresh. Their artwork is wonderfully colourful whilst still depicting the darker side, hey, it’s not the greatest, but it’s a damn fine release, a worthy challenger for the fast heavy metal crown incorporating wonderful bouts of speed metal, its exhaustive, it’s a killer record.

(8.5/10 Paul Maddison)