Vredehammer – Viperous Review

In years past, metal music took its sweet-ass time in order to drop us the good stuff. Don’t get me wrong, I do like a good, slow burn, but usually we (and by proxy, you) usually don’t hear anything jaw-droppingly good until later in the year. Not 2020, man. Barely into our third month, and we’ve already got strong contenders for Album o’ the Year, and it doesn’t seem to let up anytime soon. And now, we’ve got the much-anticipated Viperous by Vredehammer, an album everyone here at AMG‘s been anticipating since Violator knocked us all on our collective ass back in 2016. We were all expecting incredible riffs by Per Valla. We were all anticipating furious blastbeats and driving, militaristic rhythms in equal measure. We were all craving to be thrown into classic sounds turned upside down and blasted with the fiercest of frosty Norwegian winds. So what am I blasted with upon pressing “Play”?

Keyboards. Yes, dear reader. Keyboards. Not just any keyboards, mind you, but something out of a Sega Genesis1 game. But do not fret, as after the introductory mood-setter finishes off and “Winds of Dysphoria” takes root, you are bombarded with icy tremolo riffs, furious blastbeats, and Valla’s raspy growls taking no prisoners whatsoever. Out of all of Vredehammer’s songs from their last two albums, this might be the closest to the classic Norwegian black metal sound, but even then, it’s so steeped in death metal brutality and hooks that it takes that sound to another level entirely. Upon repeated listens, the keyboards add a new layer to their sound, kinda like they did for Mors Principium Est on their album, Liberation = Termination. Instead of replacing guitar riffs, they’re enhancing them. Only on here, they’re noticeably colder while no less addictive.

And speaking of riffs… goddamn. Valla’s knack for an incredible hook has no peer, and his penchant for incorporating classic sounds and turning them into something undeniably Vredehammer is both awe-inspiring and frightening. “Suffocate All Light” riffs, as our own GardensTale puts it, “like Samael on meth,” taking what the Swiss industrial gents did and cranked the speed to ridiculous levels while still being catchy. The title track answers the age-old question, “What if Devin Townsend decided to turn Strapping Young Lad into a black metal group?” while flooring you with hooks left and right. “Any Place but Home” flips the Mors Principium Est comparison on its head before driving into the ground. But it’s “Aggressor” that cements the fact that Vredehammer aren’t fucking around, with a blood-boiling drum pattern, infectious riffing, and a chorus that will stay with you for days on end.

In fact, the first eight songs on Viperous could easily make it on someone’s death metal, black metal, or even gym workout playlists. But “From a Spark to a Withering Flame,” the album’s proper closer, brings things down quite a bit with its slow pacing and weird keyboard melody that repeats itself throughout the song’s entirety. While not a bad song, it most certainly doesn’t come close to the vibe, intensity, or quality of the eight songs preceding it. Had this been left off, you’d have a tight, catchy, and brutal album. That said, Viperous is a blast to listen to, as production and mix allows the intensity to shine through without too much compression or distortion. The guitars and drums sound phenomenal on here, and at 43 minutes, it leaves you coming back for more.

And you will be coming back, time and again. Valla and his merry men once again took a look at the metal landscape of 2020, smiled, and threw down another spiked gauntlet chock-full of tight riffs, phenomenal drumming, and incredible songs in Viperous. Again, it’s usually later in the year that we get music this good, and Viperous is another gem to add to the pile of albums that will most certainly make our year-end list months from now. Give this a chance, and this will be on yours as well. Mark my words, this will hook you and not let go.

Rating: 4.0/5.0
DR: 9 | Format Reviewed: 320 kbps mp3
Label: Indie Recordings
Websites: vredehammer.bandcamp.com | facebook.com/Vredehammer
Release Dates: EU: 2020.03.06 | NA: 03.13.2020

Show 1 footnote

  1. It’s America’s version of the Mega Drive, peeps.
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