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Hellbutcher

Sweden Country of Origin: Sweden

1. The Sword Of Wrath
2. Perdition
3. Violent Destruction
4. Hordes Of The Horned God
5. Death's Rider
6. Possessed By The Devil's Flames
7. Satan's Power
8. Inferno's Rage



Review by Vladimir on June 2, 2024.

When the news broke out back in 2022 that the legendary Swedish black/thrash metal band Nifelheim was going on an indefinite break, it really made a lot of people very sad about the fact, including myself. Nifelheim has been one of my favorite bands for a long time, and to this day it is still one of my favorite black/thrash metal bands that fuel the teenage anger within. However, come 2024, the tides would turn when Hellbutcher, the band of Nifelheim vocalist and founding member Per "Hellbutcher" Gustavsson, announced the release of the self-titled debut album Hellbutcher on May 31st, 2024 via Metal Blade Records. When the music video for the first single 'The Sword Of Wrath' was released on YouTube, this came out like a lightning bolt out of the blue, highly unexpected but most welcome, and if you ask me, the anticipation for this one could not have been higher. This brought back hope to all the loyal and crazed fans worldwide, with many of them saying “Nifelheim Lives On!”, and rightfully so. Now that the Servants of Darkness have returned, with an even more diabolical Devil’s Force, it’s time to take a look at the debut album of Hellbutcher

Coming down at you with all the might and glory, Hellbutcher strikes with its Sword of Wrath at such incredibly devilish and cruel force, hitting you harder and heavier than a hammer on the anvil. The album has barely begun and we are already in for some insane action filled with black-thrashing madness, especially with the second track 'Perdition' which is very much in the spirit of 90’s Nifelheim, 1985/1986 era Kreator and early Bathory, and fucking hell this is one unholy and diabolical song that would certainly give bands like Marduk and Dark Funeral a run for their money. A track with a title that perfectly summarizes the essence of this album is definitely 'Violent Destruction', and this album definitely gives you plenty of that and then some, never failing to deliver on the absolute bloodbath and merciless death-ripping. Inferno and mayhem rise even more as the album progresses, going even stronger with pedal to the metal, providing excellent examples such as 'Hordes of A Horned God' which introduces some wicked 80’s heavy metal elements blended in with the black-thrashing extravaganza, and a bit of some devilish rock and roll on 'Death’s Rider', which carries a bit of Motörhead and Venom in its overdriven and distorted DNA. This album means serious business all the way through, it’s simply impossible not to get 'Possessed By The Devil's Flames' as the title of the sixth track suggests, and no matter if you are more than halfway through the album, it just does not slow down at any given moment, because it’s fueled with 'Satan’s Power' from start to finish and all you experience is the pure essence of 'Inferno’s Rage'. The more this album gives in, the deeper it sinks its fangs into your neck like a vampire in the deep hearts of Transylvania, taking you even further though the bowels of darkness, all the way to the deep tracts of hell to meet the Envoy of Lucifer. Although the most dominant factor on this album is the black/thrash metal aspect, amped up with Hellbutcher’s harsh shrieking vocals, but even more spiced up with nice additions that lean towards a heavy/speed metal-oriented direction, which does not break away from the established template in the slightest bit. The great thing about this album is that it keeps you on edge all the way through, with your attention and curiosity high at all levels, wondering what delight may come next and then burst out of the wall with a complete “in your face” fashion. 

The songwriting of Hellbutcher is similar to that of Nifelheim in terms of its simplistic approach of oldschool black/thrash metal, handing out a variety of awesome ideas that will keep the listener entertained, but also leave a room for something more engaging like a powerful guitar solo or a nice melody for example. I think that you would have to be a complete jackass to think that this album cannot deliver great riffs from beginning to end, because it really does, and I was actually surprised a couple of times as well, especially with 'Perdition' which was a killer from the moment it began. Although bands in this branch would often entertain me, rarely do any newer bands manage to really amaze or surprise me with their riffs and songs, but in the case of Hellbutcher, they really did it and they do it well, because every riff and every song on here sounds so fresh, that you just can’t even think to call it generic, repetitive, boring or one-dimensional. There is just way too many headbanging moments on this album that it’s simply impossible to choose your favorite one or the ones that stand out the most, because every song is great in its own way and you don’t even know where to look when you are so hyped up and bloodthirsty. For real, is there anything about this album that I don’t like? Well, that would be a bit of a hard guess I suppose, and probably unfair of me to say, but the only thing that I can really criticize this album is the fact that it isn’t a bit longer. Don’t get me wrong, it does manage to deliver all the goods in its total of 33 minutes of runtime and it surely pleases the appetite of every black/thrash maniac out there, but when it was all over, I was left craving for more and I just couldn’t help it but listen to the entire thing again. It’s great for an album to have such a strong comeback quality to it that it makes you want to instantly listen to it again, and it definitely shows just how strong the entire journey is. On the final note, I can add that the album has an incredibly superb sound production with every instrumentation and vocal work being placed on a high pedestal. 

After listening to Hellbutcher’s self-titled debut, I can say with absolute certainty and no regret whatsoever, that this album proves that Nifelheim indeed lives on! It’s an ultimate “all killer no filler” experience that brings out everything I came looking for, and even more to what one would expect. I think that this album made me remember what it was like hearing Nifelheim for the first time 10 years ago when I was in my early teens, slowly diving into the black/thrash territory where you are guaranteed to find some good old fashioned musical violence, and I have never looked back since. As a Nifelheim fan looking for nothing more than some blood, fire and death, this album provides all of it, and I am sure that all the other fans feel the same way as I do. If you still haven’t checked it out yet, what the bloody hell are you waiting for you muppet?! Stop whatever you are doing right now and jump straight into this delightfully devilish black/thrash metal masterpiece of 2024. 

Rating: 9.8 out of 10

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Review by Michael on May 5, 2024.

From the ashes of glorious Swedish black-thrash legends Nifelheim Hellbutcher arises. Right from the first notes, we can hear that the Swedes around Per "Hellbutcher" Gustavsson spread total mayhem with their debut. After the split of Nifelheim he "realized (he) needed to create (his) own spirit of metal", so, together with guitarist Necrophiliac (Mordant), Iron Beast bassist Eld, and Martin "Devastator" Axenrot (Bloodbath, Opeth) he founded the band. What came out is some ferocious drumming, ultra-fast guitar riffs, and Hellbutcher's grim shrieking vocals that deliver a sheer Blitzkrieg inferno. What is to be found on Hellbutcher is old-school stuff that makes you feel like you are back in 1995 when Nifelheim put out their debut. It must be in the DNA of the guys (apart from Iron Maiden) to bring back the 80s when German thrash was the hot shit and of course praise the godfathers of black metal.

I mean, just check 'Perdition' and you will instantly know which band was the blueprint for that one. Just that one opening riff and the machine-gun-like vocals - "Pleasure To Kill"!!! And this is also the biggest difference to Hellbutchers predecessor. With the new band there are much more thrash elements to be found and the songs have a little bit more structure. Also, the guitar solos almost explode with the melodies (okay, that's an exaggeration) but a song like 'Hordes Of The Horned God' is super catchy and surprises with many great hook lines. But apart from the black-thrash influences, there are some more rock n' roll elements like in 'Death's Rider'. Here they ride more mid-tempo paced through the blood-soaked streets of Sweden to chop off some heads. Again the vocals are super grim but the base tone is very much dirty rock n' rollish. The whole song trickles off a slight asocial atmosphere, from the vomiting vocals at the beginning up to the sleazy chorus. Oh, and the guitar solo in this one is so goddamn casual. This song is the right thing to drink a few beers to and listen to it loud in your garden while there is a children's birthday party at your neighbor's. 'Possessed By Flames' shows another facet. Again, very groovy and with a little bit more worship of NWoBHM legends. The guitar work is very much Maiden-inspired (what you can only notice of course if you fade out the hellish vocals which are paired here with some sonorous spoken words). But this isn't a surprise either if you know that Hellbutcher is probably one of the biggest Iron Maiden fans in the world. And for the last one, I don't know how to give a song a more appropriate title than 'Inferno's Rage'. This matches so perfectly because the last track on Hellbutcher is this literally. This song comes closest to old Nifelheim, it is just fury and destruction. If black metal needs an iconic anthem, this is a proper candidate. This could go for the whole album, which will be a classic in a few years for sure when it comes to the black-thrash genre.

Hellbutcher himself said that he doesn't like wimpy stuff and that his music must reek of evil and so must the lyrics. They "are METAL, striving to refine and evolve (their) music and image to become and heaviest among all extreme metal bands throughout history. Disregarding predefined trends and fashions, (they) will persist in the authentic path that metal was meant to follow!". He told me lately that he is already working on some new stuff for Hellbutcher and that Nifelheim was always a little bit slow when writing an album. Let's hope that they won't make us wait for too long for the follow-up. But now is the time to enjoy the debut. As I said, you just need some beer and a garden party next door! My guess is, your neighbors will be as floored as I was while listening to it. Horns up!!

Rating: 10 out of 10

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