Reaper – Unholy Nordic Noise (2020)REVIEW

Whipping raw the corpse of witching satanic speed metal savagery by way of punk-kicked first wave black metal, Swedish duo Reaper bring doubly necromantic ear-to-ear slashing mania beyond their ‘Ravenous Storm of Piss’ demo from last year. Leading with a true n’ raw as fuck black metal point of view on ‘Unholy Nordic Noise’, they’ve distinguished their bloody ragged snarl from the legions of black/thrash acts that clog the metal headspace today through brute force. Jogging Teutonic thrash beats and jaggedly slashing buzzsaw guitars burn the church within as their storm of riff-and-rasp builds to a caustic and toxic wrath, imploding just as its sub-half hour spin ends. But hey, do die-hard black-thrashers really need another ‘first wave fuck off’ clogging up their fully stuffed fanatic heads? Yep, and the case for this one isn’t complicated at all.

There are a million angles to approach Reaper with that’d work out, I mean I could just go for the easy hit and say you’re going to feel that ‘The Cult is Alive’-era Darkthrone vibe on this one in addition to more classic influences and that’d be close enough. It kicks about that hard, plenty more riffs and thrashes harder but you get the idea. On the other hand, if you really know your stuff and love Desaster‘s ‘A Touch of Medieval Darkness’, Sauron (Michigan), Nifelheim‘s masterful first album, and the real banging punkish stuff from Unpure or, even Slaughter‘s ‘Surrender or Die’ slapping d-beaten Hell… I’d say all of that applies to the ‘Unholy Nordic Noise’ experience on some level. The heart of the experience is Germany’s ‘evil’ thrash metal days seen from the Swedish perspective circa 1987 but, Reaper are far too wild to set next to Mefisto, Morbid, or even Bathory; Only Obscurity was anywhere near as heavy back then and ‘Damnations Pride’ is far too death metal to whip out for this occasion. Reaper amplify all of these aspects, simplify some of the patterns and keep it all barreling ahead at a ripping pace for their debut.

Side B could more or less convince me that these guys have some kind of death metal background, it could just be the HM-2 distortion leaning to the right or the buzzing Nihilist-esque rip of “De Krälande Maskarnas Kör” and certain parts of “This Crystal Hell” — Not a complaint, actually, because this small shift towards the end of the record provides a shade darker turn that is much needed for the sake of variety on an album that doesn’t really fuck around. Side A has all the meat, the songs you’re going to remember for their energetic rawness and catchy punk-beaten speed metal snarling. The aforementioned opener gives me that mind-rending feeling that I’ve heard that main riff before and it’s still killing me a month later how familiar it is. Beyond that, “Order of the Beelzebub” is probably the major standout here for how catchy the echoing chorus is. The real peak of the album comes as “Order of the Beelzebub” bleeds into the (early) Destruction-esque riffs of “Horn of Hades”. The full spin is eventful, energetic, and delivered with a brutal ‘confidence’ that reeks of either seasoned pros or just enlightened performers who’re able to capture some righteous inspiration within these fairly simple hell-raising black/speed metal songs.

On one hand this record is going to feel timeless no matter when you decide to pick it up, it’s effect will last for the sake of its amplification of traditional first wave black/satanic speed metal attack. On the other hand it isn’t so mind-blowing an event that I’d fallen over myself to hit the repeat button. The scowling black metal energy of the full spin is enough to inspire a few days of ripping through classic weirdo black/thrash records but I’m not sure I’d ever need another half hour of Reaper unless they find some unimaginable angle towards Hell next time around. Moderately high recommendation.

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Artist Reaper
Type Full-length
Released January 31, 2020
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Reaper on Metal-Archives
Genre Black/Speed Metal

Moderately high recommendation. 3.75/5.0

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