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Nihill > Verdonkermaan > Reviews
Nihill - Verdonkermaan

Horrifying and brilliant - 92%

quickbeam, June 16th, 2013

‘Verdonkermaan’ is the third full-length of the Dutch black metal band Nihill. I bought this from a record store mainly because I liked the cover (a skull placed in a goblet) but also because I recognised what certainly seems to be the Dutch language (though an exact translation escapes me). I have, since then, seen no mention of this band, even among extremely knowledgeable fans of metal; though I notice that vocalist Michiel Eikenaar is also a member of Dodecahedron, who have made a slightly bigger impact in the world at large. ‘Verdonkermaan’ is evidence that Nihill deserve serious recognition.

It’s a pulsating and terrifying journey from beginning to end, a nightmare caught on tape. The effects Nihill create with guitar and bass are truly something to behold. Take the first riff at the introduction to track 1, ‘Vuur: The Deathwind of Resurrection’ – a circling, screeching sound which halts completely whatever activity you were engaged in; resembling, among other horrifying things, a gigantic swarm of flies or bees approaching the listener. A truly nerve-racking and unique sound to introduce a pounding track, whose relentless drumming perfectly prolongs the nightmarish quality.

‘Spiral: The Tail Eater’ is slower, but no less disturbing for that. It utilises a glorious, rolling bass-line which, though simple, is unstoppable and devastating – really the sound of disaster that cannot be averted. Now the listener begins to realise that each of these tracks can be considered soundtracks to different varieties of nightmare: where the first track was sheer discomfort and abrasiveness, ‘Spiral’ gleefully suggests that there can be no escape from the crushing. ‘Oerbron: Returning to the Primal Matter’ picks up the speed again. We’re introduced to another great bass-line which is less oppressive than that of the previous track; whatever relief you feel, however, is mercilessly stamped out when the band decide to stop the track in the middle so that the frontman can scream his lungs out – and this guy sounds like a ghoul. So this particular nightmare is more straight-up horror.

The music stops for track 4, which is the sound of two whispered voices simultaneously reading different lines of what is presumably some sort of scripture. It’s supremely creepy, although I can imagine many listeners skipping over it as it lasts almost 7 minutes. ‘Trauma: Crushing Serpens Mercuriales’ closes the album and is probably where Nihill sound least distinctive, as the riff structure calls to mind certain other black metal bands – notably Deathspell Omega and Darkthrone (though heavier than the latter). Still a great track, if the least scary of the bunch.

Nihill have created a near-masterpiece of utterly evil black metal. The production is excellent. Terrifying and compelling guitars are everywhere on this record and it has some of the strongest bass I’ve ever heard in this genre. The vocals are great too: Eikenaar has a strong and harsh bark but his howls and shrieks demonstrate that he’s got a few tricks up his sleeve; he reminds me somewhat of the Cultes des Ghouls vocalist in that regard. ‘Verdonkermaan’ is highly recommended; it’s frightening and invigorating and really just excellent and unusual black metal.