It’s been a long time between drinks for Australian black metallers Thrall – nine years, in fact, since their last full-length album release – so it’s quite natural for you as a listener to approach new offering Schisms with some degree of trepidation. Is the album worth the wait?

Midway through second track Tyrant you’ll notice that that trepidation has been scoured from your earholes by some of the best extreme metal you’ll hear all year. As a unit Thrall possess that unlikely knack of keeping things both misanthropic and well, hooky – but in a good way.

Tyrant and it’s successor track Veils contain some of the most downright catchy riffage your humble interlocutor has come across in a while; not ear-friendly catchy, obviously, but the sort of nifty fretwork that contains little barbs that snag the ear and embed them in the brain. It’s a very hard thing to pull off, but Thrall have the gift and, most importantly, they know what to do with it.

Tøm Vøid leads from the front both vocally and with the guitar, delivering a committed performance on both, whilst Gatecreeper skin basher Matt Arrebollo hammers away in back with a performance to rival Australia’s own king of extreme metal drumming, David Haley.

Hollow offers a nice change of pace and a rumbling bass presence from Vøid mid song as the band explore their doomier side, but for the most part this is grade A heads down mayhem, served up in the time-honoured Aussie extreme tradition, ankle deep in filth and unapologetic to the end – just how we like it, in fact.

Schisms is out now.