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This year, anno bastardi 2013, Verminous has finally blessed us with not one, but two new recordings of theirs – and that for me is some sort of an event, deserving a celebration in blood. Obviously the most important is the release of the so long anticipated second full length LP “The Unholy Communion” – for me it was ten long years of awaiting for it to come. And well, that second album of the Swedes hasn’t disappointed me at all; what’s more, it actually turned out to be even greater thing that I would expect and I can sincerely say that “The Unholy Communion” belongs to my favourite albums of the recent years and for sure will be in top three of the metal albums of 2013 (whom with I don’t know yet, maybe with Watain and hopefully Necrophobic, for which I have a great expectation!). But the album is not everything as Verminous has also decided to release a seven inch EP single; “The Curse of the Antichrist” it is called and has been released by Blood Harvest and obviously I had to get a copy. This EP contains one new track plus a couple of covers on side B, so in total we have only 8 minutes of music here, but hell… what an awesome music it is!
The title track on side A, which is the new, unreleased Verminous song, pretty much fits my impression on what the band did on “The Unholy Communion” album. It is the same quality, devastating and killer thrashing old school death metal; so powerful, so lethal and energetic, so extremely vicious and obscure – and at the same time so hooky – that it is impossible to resist it. It is fast and the riffs are just absolutely amazing; I like everything about this song. It is a perfect tune, so every time I play this EP I usually listen to this song like five or six times in a row, as it is just so damn good. Screaming “The Curse of the Antichrist!!!!!!” is not enough; you must also bang the skull! And then there’s side B, which has two covers; Nuclear Assault’s “Hang the Pope”, which is very short song… but I am not a fan of this band, so it is nothing especially exciting for me; but the title of the song is great hehe! And the second cover is Nihilist’s “Revel in Flesh”!!!!!!!!! Aaaarrrghhhh, and that’s way better, as this is a classic song for me, not as useless as Nuclear Assault’s. And I don’t care if somebody will say that this choice of a cover is too predictable and obvious; first of all Verminous’ music doesn’t sound typical Swedish in my opinion and secondly I would rather listen to a killer cover of a song, which I also worship and love rather than an interesting, but forgettable cover of a song, which I don’t like of a band, which I don’t care about at all. “Revel in Flesh” has been recorded very well and is a nice finish of the whole EP. All in all, I love “The Curse of the Antichrist”; to be a perfect single I would probably desire to have here two Verminous songs plus this Nihilist cover, but well… who cares, it is fine anyway!
Final rate: 80/100
2013 is a year of some celebration for Sweden's Verminous, as they released their first full-length (The Unholy Communion) in a decade to some anticipation amongst the underground. Likely they want to make the best of this new era of productivity, so a cheery little 7" released through Blood Harvest makes sense for collectors and fans, and I recall that they had a similar release alongside their 2003 debut. Contextually, there's not a lot of meat on these bones, and only one new original track (less substantial than Smell the Birth of Death), so the value here is gonna vary depending on whether or not you pick these 7"s up for their listening merits or just to own a copy. Eight minutes, three tunes, two of which are covers, but I will say that the production is one to die for...
Verminous have always done a good job at not cloning their obvious Swedish forebears too closely, so if you're expecting that Entombed/Carnage guitar tone and structure you'll be half disappointed. There are definitely similarities, in the use of d-beats and ominous atmospherics where applicable, like the opening moment with its organ and lead eruption, but they have a pretty distinct grind and hardcore influence which is like Discharge and Repulsion in collusion with Nihilist. Slow, stark chord patterns interspersed between fits of tremolo picking old school phantasmagoria, with barked vocals and tight-as-fuck blast beats. If you've enjoyed The Unholy Communion, this is quite close in architecture and production to much of that album. Once it begins to rage, the riffing progressions aren't all that memorable or compelling, but it sets itself up well and then dishes out an aggressive payoff. And as I hinted above, the sound is just so clean...usually these bands go for the ruddiest guitar tone to the point where they smother the rest of the band (except the vocals), but "The Curse of the Antichrist" is loud, powerful, and not too arbitrarily noisy.
I was less into the cover songs, though. Of the pair, Nuclear Assault's "Hang the Pope" is the more interesting selection, since the whole point of it was as a throwaway, humorous, political statement that the New Yorkers used to grease their grindcore elbows. The Swedes play it close to the belt, with a muddier, thicker bass intro than Dan Lilker had mustered in the mid-80s, and a destructive punctuality to the rhythm guitars which feels more forceful than the original, but frankly this wasn't an interesting tune in '85-86 and it has lost some of its comical value today. The other choice, "Revel in Flesh" is more obvious...too obvious? How many bands have already covered this one? Not to mention, while competent and accurately played, it just doesn't have that same sense of oppressive morbidness that the Left Hand Path version possessed. A safe rendition with a fraction more of a grinding impulse, and not terribly impressive.
But, hey, it's not like Verminous or Blood Harvest are charging you an arm and a leg for this thing. It's meant to be a short, fun record, a chance for fans to throw a few more bucks at their underground champs and have something that will appreciate in value one day. There are better 7" out there with more original material, and both of the Swedes' full-length records have better songs than this, but at least "The Curse of the Antichrist" itself is worth hearing, so it's not like this is just a bust that you'll leave hanging in its papal plastic. Bam.