VERBUM – Exhortation to the Impure (2022)REVIEW

Corpses wrapped in psychotic numbered cilice, the fanatic’s broken jaw’d smiling upon Death’s arrival. An eternity of understanding between messiah and hierophant gaping beneath eyes eternally rolled upwards to Him. — The anonymous procession of Chilean underground death/doom metal ascetic nihilists Verbum places its action at a bloodied street corner pulpit, side-stepping the tendency for performative self-obsession of today for their own illustrative depiction of painful spiritual penance an outrageous display of devotion by way of cruel mental and physical discomfort; Through destructive waves of classicist death-attuned doom metal movement we whip, bind and further mortify grey matter as seekers of death worship under example of this fine project’s scathingly raw endtyme existentialism. ‘Exhortation to the Impure’ finds the doors of the most elite skull-rattling death/doom tradition flung open by way of horrifying sigh, a terrifying and seeming endless whorl unto the abysm of the ‘self’ beyond selflessness.

In experience of your god’s suffering hour, the hierophant shows true devotion to spirituality and the greater good under religious law. The tone presented by the very directly Catholic lyrical references of Verbum‘s ‘Processio Flagellates‘ (2016) demo appeared to be both intimately illustrative of Abrahamic religion’s side-effect of psychotic devotion but also mocking or ironic in its first-person characterization; This was vexing in the sense that I was not sure if it was meant to be a mockery of self-harming delusion in the hands of religious fanatics, most of whom ultimately turn from masochism to sadism as their God presents further delirium. What I was instantly sure of was that the Chilean band, whom remain anonymous and uncounted, absolutely ruled by way of a death/doom metal sound in the best tradition of the sub-genre wherein the dirges of classic (read: mid-80’s/early 90’s) doom metal riffs are expanded into an unpretentious death metal format with great patience for atmospheric value. This should generally suggest that there is some profound and potentially satisfyingly irreligious mystic quality to what Verbum are doing on ‘Exhortation to the Impure‘ by way of a sound that could be tangentially likened to Swallowed, Disembowelment, and perhaps even Mystic Charm. Raw in movement and attitude yet clear and obsidian in its presence, this is not at all unrefined in its ‘old school’ treachery but instead presented as an appropriately dark death/doom being that doesn’t swing around with any sort of loose-shouldered heavy rock influence.

Misaligned atmospheric death/doom metal jaws with scattered, pulled and broken teeth, the balance of traditional death metal edge and empyreal ordered movements on ‘Exhortation of the Impure‘ provides a uniquely dramatic, or, dire voice in cleanly presented meter as each of the four main 7-8 minute pieces provide the body and their 1-2 minute interludes the blood in connective flow of flesh. Verbum space each of these experiences in a slightly more modern way, sustaining the greater interrelated statement of the full listen without distracting via elaborate synth pieces (see: Beyond BeliefTowards the Diabolic Experiment‘) while presenting a similar rhythmic map/pacing with greater brevity. This allows for a properly balanced vinyl experience with virtually equal side allowance, this of course sets the ~15 minute pairing of “Abrahamic Sedition” and “Nihil Privativum” as the experiential block to ‘sell’ the full listen up front on Side A. These first couple of song are up for the task, sewn into the rousing “Intro” to start and barreling into these warped narrative forms without relying too heavily on the oft-influential signature of Krypts and their ilk, instead seemingly pulling from the murk of the less decidedly melodic realm of early 90’s death-doomed riffcraft and the mid-80’s doom metal that’d influenced more extreme pace modulation. This is probably most evident on “Nihil Privativum” between the three minute dread meditation riff that introduces the piece and its eventual roll into brutal mid-paced death metal scourge. Fans of Bloodsoaked Necrovoid‘s debut LP back in 2020 should instantly understand what a fine balance is presented here, albeit with less of the brutal grime that record brought in hand. For my own taste this song has particularly accomplished range, from traditional triangular doom metal stasis to discordant apocalyptic extreme metal collapse and would be the piece to ultimately convince of Verbum‘s greater virtuous reaping.

Side B is the delirium beyond the bite of the poisonous beast’s fang, the maniac eye-darting horror of the open-fleshed zealot in fear of their world’s clandestine opportunism. “Silent Oratorium” is the atmospheric heft of the record in action and though it is arguably the least hard-riffing of the four major pieces here it brings vital fluidity and paranoid tonality to the full listen via wandering tremolo-riffed stretches and patiently thundered drumming, which reaches a very satisfying apex around ~7:05 minutes into the piece; There are many solid ‘in the pocket’ death/doom moments on this record but this freer-moving middle sectioned song goes a long way towards making a ~36 minute record feel like a more robust 45 minute endeavor. The shining end and the ultimate clincher for the experience is inarguably the title track which closes ‘Exhortation to the Impure‘ in grand fashion, echoing the sinister pulse of “Abrahamic Sedition” within sheets of ringing-slow death metal riff and the patiently forming spiral progression of doom and peaking ~4:55 minutes into the song, taking a break for a listless bassline that’d allow their burning crawl away from the gratuitous display on offer; The post-‘Eroded Corridors of Unbeing‘ nostalgic death/doom metal space rarely offers us examples of nigh generationally increased sophisticated abysm-draining guitar progression and, simple as this might appear at face value, the consistency of phrase and cavernous presence presented throughout ‘Exhortation to the Impure‘ ultimately pays off here in culmination.

Verbum‘s debut is an immersive pathway of self-destructive arrogance which sets my mind afire with implications of dark spiritual recourse — The brutalization of the ‘self’ is illustrated fittingly in greyed, serpentine movement that suggests humiliation more virtuous than humility and this ultimately reads as a perfectly extreme presentation for a death/doom metal full-length. ‘Exhortation to the Impure‘ could yet be a passage towards greater signature for the project but if we consider it as ‘making good’ on the exact promise of ‘Processio Flagellates‘ by blowing its notions out of the water with an profound expansion of those initial forms then it is a great success as a debut. When nothing else could pull my depressive skull into its necessary gaze unto black-mirrored reflection, this record palmed it and held me under water mercilessly until all eyes were once again opened to the dark below. A fantastically souring, if not subtle drowning deserving of a very high recommendation.

Very high recommendation. (90/100)

Rating: 9 out of 10.
TITLE:Exhortation to the Impure
LABEL(S):Iron Bonehead Productions
RELEASE DATE:January 14th, 2022

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