Verberis – Adumbration of the Veiled Logos (NoEvDia)
Verberis’ obscure origins can be traced back to the early 2010s, with the extreme metal act from New Zealand releasing their first demo, Vastitas in 2014. At the time, Verberis subscribed to a fierce and uncompromising old-school black metal style with some death metal flourishes. This was further explored when the band’s debut record, Vexamen got released in 2016. Once again, raw and direct, Verberis did not deviate from the path, but then something strange happened with the following EP, Vorant Gnosis. The tradition started to subside in favor of more ambitious, technical, and layered work. The two long-form tracks of the EP altered the focus. The conventional riffology gave way to a sharp dissonance, the direct ferocity melted into complex and intricate drum patterns. Come to think of it, this should not be at all surprising coming from an act that features members of powerhouses like Ulcerate, House of Capricorn, and Heresiarch. The return now with Adumbration of the Veiled Logos further drills down this direction.
Verberis continue to combine their technical black metal with an orthodox approach. On one hand, they appear fervent and forceful as “Sepulchre of Shattered Saints” arrives, wrecking the black metal spirit through and through. The rhythmic backbone takes a cue from the technical death metal scene, being more in line with the latter days of Ulcerate. Yet, the underlying essence is that of an apocalyptic work. The opening of “Adamantine Amidst Transience” feels like a monolith has dropped from the sky, a ritualistic opus that still holds onto its brutal self. It is this quality that ties in with the other cornerstone of this work, the dissonance. As is the case with much of the technical black metal scene, Verberis derive much of their vision from the work of Ved Buens Ende (all these “V”s are not a coincidence.) The final part of the opening track is a perfect example, while the slithering quality of “Severed Paragon” and the clean and elusive implementations of “Ennoia” complete this dark and eerie manifestation.
Verberis have really shown an abundance of ambition with their sophomore record. What is really telling here is the manner in which the record is weaved together. The venomous guitar leads, the subtle layering of ideas, the atmospheric passages, and then the furious blast beats and intricate additions. They all come together perfectly in the final opus “I Am The Father and the Tomb of Heavens,” at which point the dive into the abyss is complete. It is that mindset that has made Adumbration of the Veiled Logos a complex work, a sadistic Rubik’s cube composed of discordant spiderwebs and furious rhythms. An excellent specimen of what modern extreme metal can achieve. – Spyros Stasis
Werewolves – From the Cave to the Grave (Prosthetic)
Song titles like “We Are Better than You”, “Pride and Extreme Prejudice”, and “Nuclear Family Holocaust” make things crystal clear even before you hear one note from From the Cave to the Grave, the third full-length by Melbourne’s Werewolves. This is an album imbued with a sweaty, over-the-top, almost teenage sort of angst. The trio are angry at everyone and everything, ready to flip you off and wish death upon you for looking at them sideways even for a second or, sometimes, for simply existing.
While one may expect more than a bit of tongue in cheek in their hateful persona and posturing, the same feelings appear most authentic as they translate untouched into the music. The result is an insanely vicious take on death metal tropes that rages and brutalizes its way through nine tracks, carried by a mosh of seesawing riffs, alternating shrieks and growls, and occasional grooves. But don’t let the latter fool you. These moments of mid-tempo groveling are nothing but diversions in preparation for the next sucker punch of intestine-twisting brutal death metal. Sick stuff! – Antonio Poscic
White Ward – False Light (Debemur Morti)
The investigations of Alcest into the blackened shoegaze space and the complete dominance of Deafheaven opened new pathways in the extreme metal domain. A myriad of acts came forth attempting to replicate this well-balanced recipe. Yet, some took it further. Among the latter, you find White Ward. Their proper entrance into experimental post-black metal delivered one of the finest records of the ‘10s, with Futility Report. Post-hardcore and post-metal defined White Ward, and still the act from Ukraine continued to look beyond. Progressive tropes dominated and full flanged jazz themes took over. For the next few years, White Ward continued to build on top of this intricate structure, releasing another great work in Love Exchange Failure in 2019. Now they return with what can be described as their most ambitious work in False Light.
The usual aspects are also here. Post-metal takes over from the start of “Leviathan.” Hardcore notions provide the extra groove and rigid rhythm, while the screamo-infused spirit of Envy breathes through the harsher moments. Heavier touches, as in “Silence Circles” bring more character, and the soundscape crafting of the title track brings an overwhelming sentiment. From there on, black metal fury still rages on in the final moments of the opener. The intense presence defining “Phoenix”, while the shoegaze touches in “Cronus” adds another dimension to this offering. Emotions are swapped, from anger to melancholy and from despair to catharsis.
The plunge into various experimental domains is equally potent. The saxophone molds the jazz themes, particularly impressive during the lounge-like interlude of “Echoes In Eternity.” Ambient passages see a tilt towards the atmospheric, an intricate folk space being built in “Salt Paradise”. To top it all off, the post-punk attitude is injected into the proceedings, taking on the glory of the new wave scene to enhance further “Phoenix” and “Cronus”. White Ward do not hold back with False Light, and they do not hide their ambition. And despite its extreme lineage and experimental leanings, the way False Light plays out, in the end, is more reminiscent of the great progressive rock works. White Ward are perfecting their recipe, and they have reached a pinnacle here. – Spyros Stasis