Norwegian duo Deathhammer don’t really care what the world outside their leather n’spiked bubble thinks of their brand of Satanic blackthrash; They come back, every couple of years armed with a new aural stinkbomb crammed with neferious riffage and misguided ill intent. They present their tracts and the rest of us can take it or leave it. But I’ve a feeling after listening to new album Chained to Hell they might just be preaching to a few less of the converted than previously…

Put simply, whilst last album Evil Power showed the duo to be actually forging ahead stylistically, the nosebleeds they both clearly developed in the rarefied air of progress clearly set alarm bells ringing, with the result being a rapid and not very dignified sprint back to the tried and tested flatlands of 2012’s Onward to the Pits. Ultimately this means they’ve come back to the blackthrash pack, with Chained to Hell sounding like pretty much most of the other records you’ll hear in this genre this year.

There just isn’t enough going on here to make Deathhammer stand out from the crowd in 2018; Instrumental offering Into the Burning Pentagram is pretty energising, and closing title track Chained to Hell does a good job of convincing you you’ve just woken up from some sort of cryogenic nap and it’s actually still 1985, but other than that there’s precious little to get the juices flowing beyond the sort of reaction you’d normally expect to a competent blackthrash assault.

Deathhammer are masters of their art, make no mistake. But that very fact means that merely OK releases such as this are no longer going to be enough if they want to maintain their position at the top of the blackthrash tree. Let’s hope they really fulfil their potential next time out.

Chained to Hell is out now.