In demystification of the noble savage, and for the sake of glorifying the innate repugnance available to the human creature left unperturbed, intentionally revisionist art typically flounders whenever the artist chooses not to build upon the evidentiary findings stacking up in its wake. The suspension of disbelief is impossible for all but the truly desperate, or, flatly ignorant. Creating cathedralesque housing around the profundity available to the arcane is the fundamental step beyond doe-eyed tribute to one’s elders, and I’d say this needs to dwarf the past in vision to the point that even the lowest common denominator could not diffuse its inspiring beacon. This is the general failure of most ‘retro’ niche craft, which captures the surface level influence but not the inherently charged intelligence and spiritual magickry of estranged, esoteric music that’d managed profundity in the past. If there is one major argument to be made for this debut full-length album from the raw knuckled, gristle-gnawing duo behind Finno-American black metal project Veriluola it is that they’ve managed a sincerely outlandish treatment of a well-studied niche, finding their own ragged and moldy form in practicum and given a deeply sophisticated melodic undercurrent to its neat yet uncarefully lain and generally creeped movements. Though ‘Cascades of Crimson Cruor‘ has a roughly cobbled feeling to some of its instrumentation this naturally enhances the grotesque effect of the music — that of an early 90’s uncertainty and the dilemma of the ex-thrasher brain as it’d figured a path somewhere in between the occult-spiritual fascination of emergent black metal and the technical fortitudes of moldering, ghastly death metal thrusters nearby.
Veriluola likely formed prior to 2020 but there is null information available about the Finnish fellow, Santeri, who does the bulk of the songcraft and guitar/bass rhythm fixation under said stage name. Early on the duo included vocalist/lead guitarist Declan, who’d provided a decidedly more clearly black metal leaning path when their first demo (‘Demo‘, 2020) released, touting a mélange of pieces which ranged from Archgoat-esque guttural bestial black/death thumping to a style of semi-melodic black metal trot, not exactly as regally stated as early Hellenic black metal but certainly bearing some of the same heavy metal pulse. The grumbling guitar tone and creaking riffcraft of ‘Ritual‘ from Master’s Hammer wasn’t yet a full-blown reference to be made but that original style did have a bit of mid-90’s Mortuary Drape in its movement, even without the thrashing bustle of that group’s early work informing its movement. The potential for this type of group mastering their own domain with an outlier statement was arguably a given from that point and in that sense we’d gotten a window into a potential underground cult idea taking shape rather than the new what’s next.
As we approach ‘Cascades of Crimson Cruor‘ two years later the first and most obvious note to take is that this is not a “bestial” black/death metal group but a patient, mid-paced ‘old school’ black metal record from a decidedly non-Scandinavian (at least not typified) point of focus. Their intent on this debut appears to be the development of a very deliberate sense of movement and narrative language within these six pieces. Melodic phrasing is long-arching, adventurous and almost brittle rather than “heavy” a la the earlier work from Sacriphyx to some degree but with a key stroke of European romanticism informing every movement of the rhythm guitar voice, which is just as or more important in its two-channeled speech than the vocals. Leads are used to exaggerate the space between phrases, to declutter their use of repetition with illustrative nods to the larger statement. This is a language the melodic black/death metal fan will understand on an innate level as those core standards meet up with a more barbaric black metal register and a bit of a heavy metal waltz constantly in effect. “Anguished Soul Collective” is almost exhaustive in conveying each of these details within a steadied, gloomed-over pace. There is a bit of ‘epic’ heavy metal pain available to this song, almost a Deceased-esque effect where it takes a while for the whole picture to arrive but the method sells itself in motion as each song comes together with some profound residue left behind by the process.
As we move on to “Regal Barbarism”, which I would suggest is one of the most key pieces in grasping the full listen we find a strangely upbeat, almost metalpunk sized main riff firing off and for many this will read as a sort of trait we find in music which bases its standard of riff upon the work of Grand Belial’s Key (and Arghoslent for that matter) though this specific song as it unfolds has more in common with Denial of God (see also: the last third of “Enthralled by the Blaze”) than it does late 90’s/early 2000’s United States-borne melodicism. This same trait strikes up again one more time on the new piece, or, about ~1:50 minutes into “The Blood Grotto” where punkish rigidity to said transitional riff feels like it sidesteps the bent grooves of early Celtic Frost by an inch before the remainder of the song corrects the sharp turn of said moment. Blunt shapes and finessed movements of this sort are rightfully compared to ‘Secret Sudaria‘-era Mortuary Drape and this is about the most sophisticated reference one would need to understand the rhythmic language of this record as it continues to develop. Much as I’d wanted to compared the mid-paced trample and growl of Veriluola‘s work to that of records like ‘Abyss Calls Life‘ from Necromass they’ve not yet created such a detailed, immersive world beyond a purely functional communication of ideas. That said, there is a black/death metal tarantella in effect here which recalls that of ‘Stronger Than Passing Time‘-era Crucifier to some degree, less brutal but at least somewhat resemblant of Cazz Grant‘s vocal register per the steadied tone of Malus (Apokatastasis) who appears to have replaced prior lead guitarist/vocalist Declan beyond ~2021.
The sleepy passage between “The Blood Grotto” into “Enthralled by the Blaze” doesn’t necessarily sell the thrashing violence of any band I’ve mentioned thus far as its sleepy drawl eases the transition beyond Side A. The majority of the full listen otherwise manages a reasonable balance between eerie dual guitar rhythms, prosaic voicing and the dark heavy metal barbarism of early 90’s extreme metal. The ten minute long “Impish Insurrection” is the decider, the clincher or the repulsion depending on the listener as it focuses the ear squarely on the vexation of the guitarist and this begins to noodle around a bit too much. The slower pace of the band is dreary, depressive and sullen but doesn’t quite have the power of a record like ‘Unholyunion‘ without leaning into the wrath of their repetition or the doomed groove simmering beneath. For such a large chunk of the album there wasn’t such a profound payoff from my point of view but it wasn’t such a slog within repeated listens due to the altogether consistent, unperturbed nature of the full listen.
There are certainly different types of passion available to extreme metal, not all of them need be flamboyant at all, but the introverted and focused nature of Veriluola‘s decidedly underground outsider craft will certainly limit who lends a serious ear to their work by first impression alone. Raw and skittering as the modest recording of ‘Cascades of Crimson Cruor‘ might seem, the curious sub-genre androgyny shared between their death metallic traits and the estranged tradition of black metal inherent to the work ended up leaving a somewhat lasting impression after roughly ten or so listens, calling me back for details and smaller moments moreso than the spread of melodic values available. The general level of detail and consideration is there and the knack for mid-paced black metal composition yields some fairly unique work overall though I’d suggest there is yet a ton of unrealized potential in these already impressive ideas and I cannot wait to see how their evolution and/or iteration develops in the future. A moderately high recommendation.
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