Reaper – Unholy Nordic Noise Review

As a recovering religious fundamentalist, I’ve had to spend a lot of time undoing the damage that resulted from expending an enormous amount of energy and effort to control my so-called “earthly” desires. My super-ego mercilessly brutalized my id during the first decades of my life, and it’s taken years of learning for me to be able to say “yes” to this life instead of saying “yes” to some other life that will most likely never come. Metal music has no doubt played an important role in my re-id-ification, and there’s something about the pure evil and debauchery of blackened speed/thrash metal in particular that breathes life into my shriveled instinctual drives. It’s no coincidence that Bewitcher’s latest ended last year as one of my most played and most highly ranked records, and I reminisced about my time spent under that witching cross as I signed up to hear some Unholy Nordic Noise from Sweden’s Reaper.

Metal Archives lists ten bands that go by this name, but the metal realm’s equivalent of The Citadel of Westeros and the rest of the interwebz together yield precious little information about Sweden’s version of Reaper. Composed and audibly spewed forth by drummer and bassist Duca the Impaler and penis-flattening demon guitarist Ityphallic Flaggelator, Unholy Nordic Noise is the answer to the question, “What would it sound like if you mixed self-titled-era Bathory, Morbid Tales-era Celtic Frost, and Show No Mercy-era Slayer with D-beat?” Not counting the thematically ominous bookends of “Intro” and “Outro,” the victim of today’s record will be treated to 26 minutes of OG black metal that rumbles like Swedeath while “the orkish vokills spill gism all over one’s sanity and safety.”1 Both members are credited with “vokill” duty, so I’m not sure whether to praise Mr. Flaggelator or Mr. the Impaler for the demonically croaked primary delivery, but either way, it’s disturbing AF.

Embedded “Horn of Hades” provides a nice sampling of what you can expect from Reaper as its Slayer-esque intro gives way to a maniacal first wave black metal assault with an eerie lead that backs the rhythm and those horrendously great vocal ejaculations. “Severing the Tentacles of Faith” and “The Birth of War” are Motörhead-approved NWoBHM burners while “Order of the Beelzebub” and “De Krälande Maskarnas Kör” are driven by riffs that would fit nicely on Like an Everflowing Stream, and the whole package works nicely together. “Ravenous Storm of Piss” sounds like a title that I might give to a particularly bad call at my day job, but it’s a gnarly 80-second track that appears on and shares its name with Reaper’s EP that was released last year.

Iron Bonehead is not known for releasing records with stunning production values, and Unholy Nordic Noise is no different. But this fact doesn’t harm the release as much as you might think. The vocals are a bit loud in the mix, but otherwise the dirty sound suits the music contained within quite well. The album benefits from the short runtime as the songs can tend to blend together as many share similar rhythms and melodies. Another song or two would have emphasized this repetitiveness and potentially burdened the listener, but thank the Beelzebubs, no such thing occurred. Whoever is responsible for the vocals here deserves a trophy. There’s something about the seemingly indifferent delivery and diabolical cadence that really boosts the impact of the material, and I’ve found myself croaking along as I remember the day I was “baptized in molten lead” as I completed the “severing of the tentacles of faith” in my life.

Uniformity of sound and some small production issues hold Unholy Nordic Noise back from the greatness achieved by the likes of Bewitcher, but I don’t see fans of early black/speed metal regretting a single moment of the 29 found here. Reaper has captured the lightning of 1983 and 1984 in a bottle, and as you drink it, do this in remembrance of Bathory.

Rating: 3.0/5.0
DR: 7 | Format Reviewed: 320 kbps mp3
Label: Iron Bonehead Productions
Releases Worldwide: January 31st, 2020

Show 1 footnote

  1. I want to write promo blurbs when I grow up.
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