Vermeth – Suicide or be Killed! – 4.5/5
So for the Christmas review, I always mentioned I wanted to do something special, which is exactly the reason I landed on this album. Why is it special? Well not only is it the first Black Metal band I will have reviewed for the blog, but it also happens to be the first raw sounding Black Metal I’ve actually enjoyed.
Ok, so calling it “raw” might be a little bit over the top. Many Black Metal bands decide to use a raw sound, with poor production to not only remain away from mainstream influence, but so as to get an aggressive sound, as though rather than a perfectly processed recording studio, they were actually in some snow-filled caves in the middle of Norway. The main problem with this is that it often leads to either a confused sound, where great difficult in discerning riffs and melodies presents itself, or they overuse a repetitive style of drumming with a simplistic tremolo picked riff, which has a tendency to quickly become monotonous and dull. Here, they manage to attain what I’d consider the perfect medium between the raw sound, and the more modern sound with high production – not only can every note be heard, every drum beat clear in the mix, they succeed in giving the distinct impression that the sound is unprocessed. This allows for a melody to make itself apparent, whilst maintaining a certain level of atmosphere and aggression.
Both the intro and outro for the album follows a similar vein of thought; A subtle ‘banging’ with an echo over some demonic growls, not overly aggressive, as though it could be the wind playing tricks on you, or you could be in for some trouble. The majority of the tracks fade in at the start, and out again at the end. This gives a feeling of continuity, as though there isn’t really an end to the song, but rather a cut off point whereby the listener leaves only to return later.
One of things that really stands out is the fact they don’t seem to follow the trend of trying to sound more aggressive than those that came before. The drumming is still quick, with liberal use of the bass drum and cymbals, but at no point do they feel overused. There is plenty of variety in both speed and style, and the same is true for the guitars. At times creating the expected tremolo riffs, but also often opting for an almost ‘First Wave of Black Metal’ riff style, taking more notice of the thrash roots than many other modern bands, creating a simple sounding, evil yet somehow often addictive riff. The vocals too are top notch, with enough reverb to sound like the aforementioned cave, a lot of the atmosphere derives from these vocals. The lyrics however are completely impossible to comprehend, but with track titles such as “Suicide or be Killed!” and “Flame of Hate” I get the impression this wasn’t the focal point for his work.
The album is a short one, clocking at only 32 minutes, but it doesn’t need to be any longer. As it stands there is no filler, and at this length it saves itself from sounding repetitive. Im sure there will be fans from both sides of the sub-genre, some preferring the old raw style, and others perhaps more interested by the super-aggressive high production aspect to the genre, but this incredible blend of both old and new is one that should appeal to both sides.
Highlights: Ave Santanas, Necromancer, Malediction