Bliksem – Gruesome Masterpiece (Iron Will/Rough Trade)  

Genre: Metal

Taking their name from the Dutch term for lightning, Bliksem storm into action with Crawling in the Dirt, the opener to their second album: the track crackles with energy, a quasi-thrash assault spearheaded by gutsy vocalist Peggy Meeusse. And it’s followed by something equally barnstorming, in the shape of the pacey Kywas.

Unfortunately, for all the Belgians’ obvious talent – and Meeusse’s powerhouse performance – they can’t quite keep up the high standards set by its opening salvo, with the likes of The Hunt sounding decidedly pedestrian when the pace is dropped. And the twee lyrics do the quintet few favours.

Throwing some occult rock (Mistress of the Damned) and doom (Morphine Dreams) into the mix does mean that Bliksem keep things interesting – though you get the impression that they might be suffering from an identity crisis, not knowing whether to give Meeusse more freedom to express herself on slower material, who just hit the accelerators and go for power/thrash broke, as on Fucked Up Avenue.

Not a masterpiece, then, but certainly not gruesome, this opus could prove an important stepping stone for Bliksem, rather than a defining moment.

RUSHONROCK RATED: 6.5/10 Storm brewing