Valkyrja - Contamination (Metal Blade/Riot)

They may not be spectacularly well known in the black metal scene, but this album could be set to change things for Valkyrja.

I cannot tell a lie: this album scared me. The opening two minutes are little more than the metallic, gutteral moans of some kind of haggard subterranean beast seemingly intent on completely fucking up the listener's head. As the groans increase, the tension mounts, and wallop, first track Oceans To Dust assaults your ears in an uncomprimisingly heavy manner.

At this point it's almost essential to turn Contamination up to 11. Drummer J.Wallgren's double-kick is absolutely flawless, and the dual guitars of A. Hed and S.W. (the latter also laying down the bass track for the album) act as a pedestal for a mightily pissed off vocal from A.L (catchy names, these lads)

It's not just relentless blasting, though. Solstice In Withdrawal and Ambience Of The Dead have moments of slow but equally intense heaviness. A.L's vocals will have critics, but the harsh-yet-audible style is fucking convincing throughout. As he spits the lyrics, you become embroiled in the bleak, necro-fantastical world that Valkyrja is creating.

The Womb Of Disease, whilst perhaps not having the most family-friendly title, has a radio-friendly style, with the music moving into the realms of thrash. But fear not, fans of darkness! For as soon as this chugging, guitar solo-loaded song ends, Welcoming Worms restores the status quo with thunderous aplomb.  

The final two songs on Contamination both come in at over seven minutes, allowing for the undulating atmoshpere expected from quality black metal to really draw you in. There's a pleasingly consistent drone of dual guitars that occasionaly take an Amon Amarth tone, and by the end of The Adversarial Incentive Within All, it's difficult to know what to do next. I simply sat in silence for a bit. 

For a band that have been around for six years in some form or other Valkyrja have stood in the background on a scene that has produced some of the biggest names not just in black metal, but in metal as a genre. They're unlikely to be the next Dimmu Borgir but this excellent album will definitely get them noticed.

Contamination is out now on Metal Blade/Riot