Having recently made comments in interviews that their extreme northerly location and possession of a sense of humour has rendered them outsiders in the Norwegian black metal scene, Nordland County quartet Vredehammer seem destined to stand out from the crowd. One listen to their debut album “Vinteroffer” affirms that they’re onto something, but more for the sheer quality of the music captured on this 45 minute beast of a record.
After the lofty cinematic score of the intro track, the barrage of blasts and crunching black/death riffs that comprise first track proper ‘Cthulhu’ are more than enough to make you sit up and take notice. Managing to stay catchy and interesting throughout rather than drift onto autopilot like so many other bands, Vredehammer appear to have hit upon a winning formula. This is continued with the squealing melodies and militaristic chugs of ‘Seduce Infect Destroy’ which lives up to its title by burrowing into your inner ear and steadfastly refusing to budge, while the scalding black metal assault of ‘Suicide Forest’ evokes images of a remorseless invading army storming to attack under a broiling sky of rushing storm clouds.
The ambition and scope of artists such as Dimmu Borgir when they were in their “Death Cult Armageddon” stage over ten years ago is an apparent influence in the razor sharp riffs and sense of grandeur that infuses the bulk of “Vinteroffer.” There are no overbearing keyboards apart from the intro, but the clinical precision and vaguely industrial coldness are a familiar and welcome listen in a genre that occasionally gets obsessed with pretending that harshness and poor recording quality are an acceptable excuse for having little talent. But talent is what the members of Vredehammer have in abundance, switching from passages of arctic blasting to refined sheet metal riffing with consummate ease, with the neck-snapping ferocity of ‘Skydom’ a case in point.
Not quite grim enough to dwell in the panda-painted hordes and with a taste for other aspects of the extreme metal palette, Vredehammer have crafted one hell of a debut album that just may be the kick up the arse the Norwegian underground scene desperately needs. For those craving one suitably mighty and majestic slab of northern darkness, “Vinteroffer” should go down a treat.