Freiburg natives Nornir have put together an incredibly listenable slab of traditional black metal with their new release, Skuld.

Early signs are good – marching feet, war horns, a mournful female voice – but, though they set scene nicely, these sounds don’t fully prepare you for the moment that the band unleashes Hell. Or Hel, or something…

Never mind my japing. This is solid stuff, and tracks like Hel’s Postulate show a band in full control of their tools of war; The guitars of Lethian and Angrist have just the right amount of old school primitivism in the tone to set old heads off and nodding approvingly, but, whilst the band make no bones about their love of all  things ancient and Norwegian this is still a ‘big’, modern sounding production with enough sheen to take a few non-coms in along the way. The maelstromic Dedicated To The Night, with it’s heaving drumwall backdrop courtesy  of Farliath, is an absolutely massive sounding piece of work, towering above the output of most bands working in this area in the past year. I certainly wasn’t expecting such a raucous, death-affirming set of tunes this time around from these guys, who in the past – in my opinion at least, have just been another Euro black metal band. No – this is next level stuff.

The band even achieve the impossible by taking on a Wardruna song and absorbing it into their cannon; Their take here on Helvegen not only rips, it sounds perfectly at home with the material that surrounds it; Keeping enough of the shamanic charm of the original yet suffusing it with a desperate savagery all their own, they create something pretty special indeed, in the process showing just how far they’ve come in the last few years.

Well worth a listen, then, especially if you can’t resist a bit of old school black metal in your diet every now and then.

Skuld is out now.