Italy’s Valgrind have been around since 1994 but finally made their mark on the death metal scene back in 2016, when they released the pretty damn special, Speech Of The Flame. Following this with Seal Of Phobos – a glorious but all too brief EP – only cemented their burgeoning reputation but Blackest Horizon is the release to see them lauded all the way from the bowels of hades up to heaven’s pearly fuckin’ gates!
Blackest Horizon is 90’s death metal incarnate, a Death/Pestilence/Nocturnus blast of old-school goodness aided and abetted by outstanding songwriting and exemplary performances. With the surest, sturdiest grasp of what made death metal’s greatest era so damn impressive, Valgrind have embraced recognisable sounds while delivering an album uniquely their own.
You can practically feel the ghost of Chuck Schuldiner nodding approvingly while the likes of Patrick Mameli (Pestilence), Trey Azagoth (Morbid Angel) and Mike Browning (Nocturnus) take notes, such is the shock and awe power of each and every track. While Valgrind’s canny use of keyboards cannot be underestimated – a tricky balancing act which the band have perfected – it’s the endless array of punishing, ever-evolving riffs which propels Blackest Horizon into the ‘must-hear’ category!
Massimiliano Elia and (relative new boy) Umberto Poncina are on fire throughout. These guys are undeniable riff juggernauts with a cast-iron sense of dynamics, harnessing brutality, groove and melody while whipping up swirling, futuristic solos on a whim. The results are ever entertaining, ever rewarding and completely unpredictable. Shackle this to the Chuck meets Martin Van Drunen vocals of Valgrind bassist Daniele Lupidi and death metal nirvana is achieved effortlessly.
Blackest Horizon will go down as one of 2018’s finest death metal records, no question. 9/10
Blackest Horizon was released on May 25th via Everlasting Spew Records…..go get a copy!