In lieu of lofty imaginary visions or the horror of whatever prose might be fitting in description of Belarusian thrash metal band Verwüstung, the reality of the harsh black metal scenes in northern Europe offers far more macabre histories than I could conjure. Prior to the formation of Verwüstung founding members would get their start in purist black metal project Infernal Wisdom but when their vocalist Frozendark left (likely around 2010) they would change their name and release their orthodox black metal demo ‘Contra Humanem’ in 2011. None of the events I’ll detail in the rest of this paragraph are related to Verwüstung or thier music so, feel free to skip to the next paragraph if you’re only interested in ‘Gospel ov Fury’. On August 5th, 2012 Morak Production label owner and Ciemra Zine editor Smutak entered the home of Lifeless Visions (Omega Productions owner, Kronum Zine editor and fine artist) and savagely stabbed both Frozendark (his wife) and Lifeless Visions to death before cutting his head off and (allegedly) boiling it on the stove. Smutak would spend three days in the apartment with those dead bodies and he’d later be apprehended by police on public transit with Lifeless Visions‘ head in his possession. It is a tragedy for these otherwise intelligent young folks and a brutally psychotic happening that’d end with Smutak sentenced to death and executed by 2014. Considering the promise that Verwüstung show today it is a real shame to consider what excellent music from Belarus that we might be missing out on today otherwise.
Beyond their first demo and separated from those horrific events Verwüstung would become a quartet, scrap a formative EP and then spend a couple of years transforming into the blackened thrash metal band that’d appear on ‘The Lash Ov Nihil’ (2015) a full-length that’d include the unreleased EP ‘In the Name ov Salvation’ to fill out Side B. The growth of the band between those two recordings was very evident and though it might seem odd that they shifted from pure black metal towards thrash metal that transition feels entirely normalized on that first full-length. The band would be picked up by Handful of Hate by 2017 and wider release of that record would stoke the band to record this their proper debut as a band and most professional release to date with ‘Gospel ov Fury’. With the context of history and their well-developed extreme thrash sound today there is a truly dangerous feeling emanating from this generally ‘classic’ thrash metal influenced release. By turning back the clock to the first wave of black metal and shredding out a host of early-to-mid Teutonic thrash metal riffs Verwüstung appear completely murderous, dead serious in their devotion to the dark.
For a band likely named after an Abigor record the riffs straight out of the gate from Verwüstung‘s guitarists invoke the darkest Kreator worship from the depths of the Brazilian underground of the mid-80’s as much as they do the darkest Kreator worship in southern Sweden around that same time. From Mutilator to Morbid and Merciless the first set of riffs only barely take a break from the maelstrom they create to dive into some black metal voicing a la more recent Aura Noir. The riffs appear guided by classics but also informed by modern (or, second wave black metal at least) guitar techniques. The guitar tone is hollow and distinctly aggressive not far from the battering ram from early Hypnosia, Massacra or more recent Vomitor records. From there the album runs a gauntlet of brutal thrashing riffcraft that gives off a puritanical German thrash vibe, somewhere between early Destruction, Poison, and that second Necronomicon album when the riffs start to really bend and sway towards black metal. The centerpiece for the conglomerate style comes with the cheesily named “Hellfire Rock n’ Roll” because it really is that crossover between Venom-esque corniness and the influence of witching metal in the years since. There is some absolute mastery of the thrash riff on this record and their integration of black metal guitar work is generally effective when introduced for a chorus or a bridge verse as they change things up from song to song.
It caught me by surprise several times as I’d put ‘Gospel ov Fury’ on to get a hit of black metal and then realize I really was getting an extreme take on a classic thrash record from folks who completely ‘get it’ when it comes to late 80’s thrash metal riffing and its relation to extreme metal’s formative years. It is more or less what Morbid were doing decades ago but Verwüstung manage to create an attack that feels even more brutal and bloodied than most comparisons I could make. I’m the first guy to chime in and agree when someone says black/thrash is done to death anymore but I’ll be damned if records like this don’t steer me completely away from that jaded attitude. They rip, they riff, and they absolutely get it right on this second full-length. I might be understating the pure black metal side of this album but I’d say between early Nifelheim and maybe hints of the second Necrophobic album you’ll get the idea of what that 70/30 black/thrash split sounds like. I was going to pass this one by but I haven’t been able to take this band off my playlist for a couple of months and after reading some of the history of the scene they come from, I had to put a spotlight on it. Highly recommended. For preview you absolutely need to hear “Impulse to Kill”! But I’d also suggest “The Ashen Communion” and “Hellfire Rock n’ Roll” to get the bigger picture.
Салдаты смерці. 4.0/5.0
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