Written by: EW on 30/12/2014 15:40:41

We all know that the metal world is not truly meritocratic, a point proven by the continued existence of Five Finger Death Punch, as if it were then bands like Blodhemn would garner significantly greater attention. With the 2012 debut album, "Holmengraa", this Norwegian thrash-tinged black metaller laid a significant marker of intent by honing a variety of classic influences into a riveting and enjoyable whole without offering enough of a defining unique edge to push it beyond 7½/10 territory, but this time improvement is everywhere and with some hugely enjoyable tracks which bristle with venomous intent from the opening notes a very strong release is the outcome. And yes, much to my amazement this continues to be the work of one man, Invisus, a fact making the succinctness of the seven tracks on the unusually titled "H7" even more startling.

Seven tracks, forty-one minutes, countless killer riffs. Previous listeners to "Holmengraa" will know what to expect, but for those new to Blodhemn think dark, icy riffs, leads which float off into a black night sky, a variance in tempos to avoid the effects of speed fatigue, a strong if understated drum and bass performance, a spittly vocal performance and a clear powerful production. Once the flames die down a few seconds into opener "Flammenes Virke" all this becomes apparent as the song steamrolls onwards with little rest, reaching a peak with a thunderous break around the 4:15 mark. Completing an immense double opening salvo, "Slettet Av Tid" is similarly ambitious in scope, bursting out from a noisy introduction with classic Dissection-esque riffing, the notes cascading down the guitar neck and through the conscious at pulverising speed. For an instrument that can no doubt not be Invisus’ primary means, the drumming is commendably solid although the kick drums being buried low - alongside the vocal lines - in the mix provide the impetus for the twin guitar riffs to stand proud out front. Being ultra-critical, this imbalance in the drum mix offers the only suggestion of the band not being formulated with a ‘professional’ drummer in tow, such is the otherwise completeness of the remaining aspects of "H7”.

After threatening to plough onwards into raspier blackened tones "Evig Heder" drives forwards with some very noticeable thrash licks closing out each bar, perching the track not too far from fellow Norse reprobates Nekromantheon and Aura Noir. Furthering the claim for a ‘great’ tag to be slapped on the album is the interesting construction of riffs as early in "Veiten" and "Åndenes Ansikt" the early momentum is transferred for slower sweeps across the strings, in turn still offering plenty for the discerning listener to take from these sections that are normally absent or poorly executed in many thrash(ing) records of recent times. Adding to notable earlier tracks, "Fandesvenn" delivers five such notably impressive minutes of fretboard acrobatics that I find myself almost returning unaware of Invisus’ vocal lines beneath, not that I would understand them anyway unfortunately owing to my lack of Norwegian. While the track ends with a whimper, it segues into the most blackened of the seven, the title track which recalls Kampfar in a more straightforward delivery through the heart of caustic black metal territory.

While it does not re-write the rulebook of black metal, "H7" does offer one of the strongest and most intensely enjoyable renditions of the genre I’ve heard in 2014 and beyond. Strapping and confident it does away with the need for overt Satanic pomp through an increased focus on the structural composition and quality of leading riffs, factors which never tire when done as well as here. "H7" deserves to get Invisus, and Blodhemn, great plaudits.

Download: Flammenes Virke, Sletter Av Tid, Fandesvenn
For The Fans Of: Taake, Dissection, Kampfar, Thulcandra
Listen: Facebook

Release date 10.11.2014
Indie Recordings

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