Shadowpuncher is a one man death metal project from Norway led by Max Kevin Olstoren. Fairly prolific, in 2 short years Shadowpuncher has managed to put out 4 EPs of material, this self-titled being the first for Nosral Recordings. The band calls itself death metal, and yes, there are death metal vocals and occasionally even blast beats, but there is a serious thrash influence, and overall the best comparisons might be to bands like Living Sacrifice, older Sepultura, or Sacrament.
The cover art for the album is very cool, depicting a knight battling a two headed dragon in a castle. Even in a digital world, I'll still pick up an album without ever hearing the music, based on cover art or a logo that I like- so kudos to Mr. Olstoren. "Intro" is like a sonic illustration of the cover art, with chains dragging in a dungeon, the Lord's Prayer being recited, and then the sound of fire, a dragon's roar, and a sword being wielded. The guitars on "Shekinah" have a particular Zakk Wylde influence, accompanied by death metal vocals of the pig squealing variety on the chorus. "Lord of Lords" speeds up the guitars and the drums for more of a speed metal feel. "Conflict" continues the speed metal ride with some nice soloing. In "Belt
of Truth" things slow down to a doomy mix of reverb in a rhythmic, mesmerizing zen of metal grooves and deep death metal growls. "The Agony" starts with an intro very similar to the old Doctor Who theme, leading into some nice thrash metal. "No More Suffering" closes the EP on a cloud of keyboards, then on to slower, heavier drums and guitars, and then back to music and pig squealing reminiscent of "Shekinah." Overall, the album is shorter (less than 30 minutes), but it was an appropriate amount of time to get introduced to the music without tiring of the band. Shadowpuncher displayed a good variety of styles and it was nice to see a good mix of thrash with the death metal. The vocals sounded a little muffled compared to the instruments, and I'll pass on the pig squealing, but this is some decent metal. I enjoyed that they could pull off fast, as well as slow and doomy. (Nosral Recordings) 3.5 out of 5 stars
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