Building on the acclaim deservedly gathered from their debut EP, Italian pagan death metalers Vinterblot return with their first album Nether Collapse to confirm that initial promise and realise it as a mightier and more powerful monstrous and deeply satisfying entity. The album thunders across the senses equalling battering and gracing the ear with acidic melodies and coarse guitar intrusions all powered by intimidating unstoppable riffs. Behind the intensity there is an impressive creativity and diversity going on, at times mesmeric and always inspiring the carefully crafted melodies and expressive sounds give a real depth to each song even if there a few times one has to focus through the assault raging above them.
Formed in 2008, Vinterblot were determined to bring traditional European death metal in a merger with black metal and darker atmospheric and ambient sounds. The quintet from Bari of Phanaeus (vocals), Vandrer (guitar), Fjorgynn (guitar), Eruner (bass), and Wolf (drums) released their For Asgard EP mid 2010 to as mentioned strong response and acclaim, backed up by impressive live shows throughout Italy. Nether Collapse released via Rising Records lifts the band to the forefront of melodic death metal, its diversely spiced black sound surely the breakthrough to place Vinterblot on a multitude of extreme metal playlists.
The album starts with the stunning instrumental ‘Prelude’. Darkly acoustic the track is an expressive and visual piece of music. Its peace and melodic creativity weaves a calming atmosphere tinged with a feel of something impending. That feeling is soon found in eruption of ‘Upon A Reign Of Ashes’ which leads straight on from the opener. Concussive rhythms, antagonistic riffs and sharp guitars beat and force their relentless intent through the ear. Despite the harshness and deep intensity, the track and the album come to that, is not particularly violent upon the senses, its enormity and heavy oppression more intimidating, unforgiving and challenging.
From here on in the album really gets into its stride with firstly the excellent ‘Council of Trees Beholder’, a track merciless in its firm grip and constantly badgering as burning melodies scorch the ear. Unsettling and persistent it weakens defences for the might of ‘Remembrance’ and the staggering ‘Howling Shadow ‘. The first of the two makes the relentlessness of its predecessors on the album seem lightweight compared to its bestial intensity. Drummer Wolf is outstanding throwing up an unbridled creative energy to keep the track’s onslaught continuous whilst bringing impressive diversity. Like a monster storm awaking the song consumes down to the last cell of its victim.
One would have made the song best on album but even its majesty has to make way for ‘Howling Shadow ‘. From first note the track stomps across the senses, its militant rhythms and battalion like groove unstoppable and thoroughly irresistible. It defies anyone not to be swept up in its call to arms anthemic sound, and even if there is not a chorus or vocal part to become one with the track engages and instigates complete compliance and participation. The vocals of Phanaeus are as formidable as the music, dragging tones from the deepest pit within him; they are venomous and dripping malevolence to infuse this and every track with a menace and foreboding in league with the intent of the sound.
Apart from another stylish and beautifully crafted instrumental in ‘Sol Invictus (Ritual Act)’ the album continues to pummel and explore with the likes of the more metal toned ‘Whispers to the Headless’ and the striking ‘As Sleipnir Rides’.
Nether Collapse is a tremendous album, it does take a little work at times but the reward is very satisfying though your tattered and bruised senses might disagree at first. Vinterblot are ready to take metal by the scruff of the neck, keep listening.