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Album Review: Reaper – Unholy Nordic Noise

Back to Sweden, back to Iron Bonehead.  When I last visited this label, it was to cover some Mystikal Brainhole Fucking via the new Jordablod album, which ruled and started the year off on one hell of a high note. Today we’re presented with Reaper, and to say they’re “more straightforward” would be an understatement on par with calling the Chernobyl disaster “a bit of a slip-up.”

Reaper’s debut album, Unholy Nordic Noise, is rather aptly named. If you asked me to sum up the experience in three words, those are the exact three I’d choose in that exact order. The word “noise” should be taken as value-neutral here because there clearly isn’t any actual influence from the noise genre, and I don’t mean to imply it’s some sort of meaningless cacophony. No, this is black/speed metal in the vein of Hellripper or Whipstriker delivered in a particularly vicious tone. This is as raw and fiery and Gordon Smiley and every bit as morbid.  There isn’t one second that isn’t occupied with blistering punk-infused 1st wave black metal riffs and raunchy d-beats.  It’s barely 28 minutes, and even if you include the haunting acoustic intro and outro in that runtime, this fucker is packed to the gills with filth. The vocals rip as well.  Both members of the band are credited with vocals, so I can only assume each one handles a different style – one being a bitterly snarly shriek akin to Ashmedi of Melechesh, and the other the Popeye style ala Immortal or Inquisition. Both suit the utter destructiveness of the album quite well. The best way I can think to describe it succinctly is “Sarcofago by way of early Bathory.”

Those six words pretty much render anything else I could say pointless because I’d just be repeating myself.  Any metal fan not already familiar with those classic acts probably won’t find much to enjoy here anyway, as the production/mix is as unrefined as you could possibly be while still maintaining a solid low end.  It’s a retching, abrasive swarm of hornets and only meant for genre diehards in the first place. Metal is a very gatekeepy genre, for better or worse, and Reaper is exactly the kind of thing you’d find behind the kept gate.  While I may find myself scorning the keepers more often than not, I can’t help but love the shit they’re guarding. So Unholy Nordic Noise is something I’ll happily indulge in despite the one-dimensionality of the music.  If you insist on knowing the best tracks, I’d toss my hat in for “Order of the Beelzebub,” “Horn of Hades,” or “De Krälande Maskarnas Kör.”  Either way, just listen to the whole thing. It’s barely longer than an episode of whatever bullshit you’re probably binge-watching right now.

Unholy Nordic Noise will be released on January 31st through Iron Bonehead records and will surely be on their Bandcamp page once it’s out.

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