Coming straight out of Norway, we’ve got the debut album from a blackened/thrash quartet who likes to deal out death and leave absolutely no prisoners. From the title, you might expect an incredibly artful release, but aside from a few unexpected moments, Chiaroscuro is not that kind of record. The disc features a drum barrage that never ends, hard-hitting thrash riffs and a slight segue into something that feels a little more intellectual in “Painting Lives” (3:34) which came admittedly out of left field. Keep in mind that for most of the disc, you’re getting a slightly folk-inspired dose of Norwegian black thrash, but when that piece comes into play, things seem to get a little more classy. There’s no doubt in my mind that you’re going to be raising your horns high in the air while banging your head in the center of an inverted pentagram when you jam out to this thing, and it’s definitely got enough muscle where it counts (both in force and structure) so you’re getting a pretty memorable disc that ultimately offers a hell of a lot more than I hear from most bands in this style. I think that the incorporation of slightly progressive and cleaner elements actually work in the band’s favor, because this could have very well been standard black/thrash with every song sounding roundabout the same and no real meat to behold. I’ve listened to a lot of stale old bones, and I’ve passed on every one of them. Vingulmork is definitely the exception in this case, and it’s in my opinion, a damn good black/thrash disc. I really don’t think you’ll find a band playing as fierce and refined as these guys right now, especially in the black/thrash sub-genre. Much as I like it, everyone seems to copy Venom or Sarcofago. These guys, well… they don’t, and that’s what stands out to me.
(9 Tracks, 33:00)