Michael Hellström, despite his Swedish-sounding name, hails from France and is the driving force behind French one-man wrecking machine Fäust; Somewhat improbably, his debut outing under the monicker, Death From Beyond, is epic in almost every respect, sounding like the work of a massed legion of seasoned, axe-wielding maniacs rather then carefully formed-and-executed compositions from the fevered mind of one uber-talented soul. And if it’s epic in every respect, then it’s no exaggeration to tag the album an unqualified success in every respect, too…

Essentially a mouth-watering mashup of Dissection and the more melodic moments of Watain, tracks like standout cut Night Eternal possess that vital X-factor that guarantees appeal even amongst those who wouldn’t normally consider themselves to be fans of this sort of thing; It’s amazing what an ear for melody, a grasp of dynamics but most importantly the courage and skill to back up ones’ convictions with sheer musical heft can achieve, and Hellström combines all those elements here to create one of the most memorable pieces of extreme metal I’ve heard all year.

It doesn’t stop there, however – The album is bookended with a couple of six-minute-plus epics, When Death Spawns Fire and Hellstorm, that both underline and reinforce just how formidable a proposition Fäust could be moving forward. All the makings are here of a genuinely great name in melodic black metal, and I am not ashamed to say I was genuinely surprised by just how exciting this album was to my jaded old journo ears at first contact.

I’ve no idea whether Hellström intends to flesh out a lineup to take this album on the road, but you’d have to say that music like To Death and Beyond would sound massive in the live setting – we can but hope, but even if this remains a studio-only project Fäust is definitely still a name worth taking note of. Great stuff!

Death From Beyond releases on December 9th.