Swiss quintet Stortregn operate at the most accessible end of the black metal spectrum. A high proportion of the music featured on Emptiness Fills the Void would appeal to fans of melodic death metal. Connoiseurs of the purer forms of black metal may find this confronting.

The band also remember venerated names like Dissection on tracks such as The Forge. However only on denser, more complex material – closing opus Children of the Obsidian Light, perhaps – do the band make their black metal tag look completely comfortable.

Vocalist Roman Negro has a versatile voice, surely a requisite when the music itself has so much travail following a single furrow. The hoarse rasp employed on the track Nonexistance is perhaps it’s most effective use.

Technically speaking Stortregn are accomplished. The twin guitar assault tactics deployed by Johan Smith and Duran Bathija are often effective – if a little ‘heavy metal’ for ears used to harsher, less forgiving tones. This of course is meant not as criticism but merely as comment. This is not music for all levels of listening ability. Again, the reviewer posits the suggestion that some of the music exhibited here may not appeal to fans of the blackest of black metal.

Lawless is perhaps more demanding of the listener, and more satisfying as a result; The Eclipsist is also of a more ‘traditional’ black metal hue and features high level bass playing from Manuel Barrios.

Stortregn set high levels of achievement for themselves throughout this album. Whatever the style of music being performed at any given time, performance is always of the highest order. And fans of extreme metal who also enjoy melodic interlude and ‘commercial’ flourish will indeed find plenty to savour on this album. If, however, you appreciate only the blackest, hate-filled brutality, then Stortregn are assuredly not the band you are looking for.

Emptiness Fills the Void will be released on May 25th.