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The entity known as Shadow Puncher has really been busy in the last 2 years. Hailing from Norway, the ‘band’ is a one-man project, headed up by Max Kevin Ølstøren. I reviewed their debut self-titled album almost a year ago for another publication, and I was pretty critical of it. What will we find this time around?

Opening track “Interlude” features a super cool, but slightly deceptive dream pop/shoegaze sound. It almost made me think I had the wrong artist on! Nonetheless, SP now have my attention. Next up is the title track. Contrary to the fairly one-dimensional thrash/death we heard on the debut, this track features heavy djenty, layered sounds with death metal growls and squeals. Already, this is very different from the self-titled debut. It’s heavier and more diverse.

“Wisdom” showcases a clean guitar intro and an almost soulful singing—really cool stuff—and then kicks into some screaming, all the while managing to maintain that driving rock/clean sound with some layered death metal growling over the top. I don’t think I’ve ever heard a track quite like this. “Understanding” features another super-heavy riff, with some blastbeats (drum machine) over the top, then a crunchy, heavy riff with death metal growls.

This album is equal parts djent and death metal—sometimes both in the same song, and at other times it’s juxtaposed in trade-offs. I admit I was pretty critical of their debut, but 777 is leaps and bounds ahead of Shadow Puncher. While I still prefer live drums and a full band, sole member Max Kevin Ølstøren has really gotten creative in the studio this time with much better results. (indie) 4 out of 5 stars

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