Verberis - Vexamen
Review by Trevor Proctor.
The standard of underground bands originating in New Zealand is exemplary with Heresiarch, Vassafor, Diocletian, and Ulcerate being just a few examples that spring to mind, and that’s before we even consider bands that originated in New Zealand and have since split up or relocated to other countries. Just as exemplary is the standard of music released by Iron Bonehead Productions whose release roster is competed with by very few and bettered by none. It was Iron Bonehead Productions who first brought New Zealand band, Verberis, to our attention in 2014 when they released Verberis’ demo, Vasitas, on digital formats in April and on cassette in June of the same year.Vasitas started out as a fairly low key release from an unknown band but soon morphed into one that gathered a lot of attention and praise. Most of us who have heard Vasitas feel not only is it a great demo but it could also possibly mark the birth of yet another first rate band from New Zealand. With very few band photos available and very little information regarding Verberis online we can only start to think who may, or may not, be involved – is it veterans of the strong New Zealand underground or a group of new comers to our underground? While this question looks like it’ll remain unanswered one thing we can be sure of is the very high standard of music this band is capable of creating.
On October 21st Iron Bonehead Productions is set to bring us the debut full length from Verberis, ‘Vexamen,’ which, in a mark of Iron Bonehead’s confidence in the band and standard of their music, will be released on CD, double LP and cassette. The stunning artwork was designed by Russian artist Artem Grigoryev who has previously created art for the likes of До Скону (Do Skonu) and Fides Inversa. Vexamen comprises no less than ten tracks lasting over fifty nine minutes - for me this is a brave and generous move for a band whose only previous release is a demo lasting seventeen minutes. However, Verberis are well up for it and writing a debut of this duration is indicative of their ability and ambition. Granted, two of these tracks, ‘The Primordial Rift’ and ‘Fangs of Pazuzu,’ featured on Vasitas but they have been reworked and re-recorded with different versions of each featuring on the album - the album version of ‘The Primordial Rift’ is close to a minute shorter than the demo version and vice-versa for ‘Fangs of Pazuzu.’ Both tracks sound even better than previous with the guitar sounding meatier and stronger and the slightly better production levels lend themselves well to Verberis’ sound.
Opening track, 'Thanatosia' is the shortest on the album and aside from a few shouts at the start it’s an instrumental for the rest of its seventy second duration which despite its short length serves as a succinct introduction to the music of Verberis.
As mentioned the production levels on Vexamen are, as you’d expect, more enhanced and slightly cleaner than the demo. However, it never sounds too clinical and the extra clarity is perfect as it enables us to appreciate the complex, unorthodox song structures that are held together by some stunning and unpredictable guitar work.
The song writing throughout is as exceptional as it is abundant and Verberis show maturity and ability beyond their years by bringing us a standard of composition that frequently evades the sub-genres of Sepulchral Death Metal and Bestial Black/Death Metal. Proof of this ability can be heard a number of times during the album but is no more apparent than on closer, ‘Voidwards,’ which is an eleven minute track Verberis use to meander off in all roads and directions – nothing predictable, nothing mundane, nothing less than quality.
It would be lazy and derogatory to simply categorize this as Death Metal – granted Death Metal is centric to a lot of the music but what Verberis have written goes way beyond simple classification – perfectly summed up by the press release which stated, “…this is Death Metal, ever blackened and always abyss-ward, but the four shadow-draped figures of Verberis finesse it into a feverishly flowing fount of highly dynamic and darkly memorable madness.” At times you’d easily forget this is a debut album as with Vexamen Verberis have not only made the transition from demo to album look easy, they’ve also raised the bar to a height many recently formed bands will fail to reach on more than one attempt.
With exceptional releases such as Blood Incantation's 'Starspawn,' Krypts' 'Remnants of Expansion' and the upcoming album from Bölzer, 'Hero' deservedly getting / due to get a lot of media coverage and attention it's easy for releases like this to miss the support they deserve - do not let this truly exceptional album fly under your radar, it would be nothing less than criminal if you did...
‘The Gaping Hollow of Divinity,’ is available to stream below and should cement your interest in Verberis.
Without doubt a great debut. 9/10.
01 – Thanatosia
02 - The Primordial Rift
03 – Vexamen
04 – Protogonos
05 - Charnel Vibrations
06 - Flagellum de Igne
07 - The Gaping Hollow of Divinity
08 - Fangs of Pazuzu
09 – Vereri
10 – Voidwards.