After a couple of strong EPs Portland’s Malleus finally see fit to drop their debut full-length, and they’re not pulling any punches. The sawtoothed riffs and snarled vocals speak directly to that point in the 80s when death, black and thrash metal were starting to entwine, with the likes of Celtic Frost, Sodom and Bathory all names worth dropping. The ice-cold production means it’s possible to cut yourself on every Frost-tipped guitar part, and there’s a malevolence of spirit that lends things a dark and ravenous sound. The album’s title track has an odd, stumbling gait that recalls the unsteady lope of Hellhammer, while the sluggish pace, frenzied mutterings and background shriek of the excellent ‘Awakening’ initially speaks to doom without truly being doom – as though Winter decided to scrub off their crustier trappings before traipsing out into the forest to perform a questionable moonlit ritual. Things close with the epic ‘Mourning War’: a surging bout of blackened thrash that isn’t afraid to work in acoustic guitars and even a joyfully triumphant hint of melody.