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Derivative paths to Satan. - 58%

ConorFynes, December 24th, 2015

Verbum Verus was founded by members of the Dutch black metal act Sauron to exist as a concurrent project. At first glance, the common membership and genre between these bands would make Verbum Verus out to be a somewhat redundant statement, but we all know that's not true. While Sauron opted for tradition in its sound, the guys clearly wanted to hop on the orthodox bandwagon before it had completely left the station. See: the mandatory Latin name, bent on twisted melodies and lyrics that purport themselves as genuine invocation.

So-naming their album based on an ancient name for Satan, it's made immediately apparent that Verbum Verus take themselves very seriously, as per orthodox custom. As a low-key contender in a crowded style, Melkiresha holds its own relatively well. It doesn't take long to realize this is a band that would rather see their religious ends through the means of other, more established bands. From the evil-sounding melodies and the clearly enunciated vocal style, Watain is arguably the band these guys take after most. And who's to blame them? For all of Watain's flaws and shortcomings, their fundamental style carries a great deal of potential for atmosphere. That Verbum Verus's most musically interesting traits are derived from this common source is enough to raise an eyebrow, but it's worth mentioning the band know how to work those tricks to their advantage.

When it comes down to the fundamental atmosphere, Verbum Verus are on point. Even if the band's lyrics weren't a laundry list of Satanic entities and familiar invocations, there would be no doubting what side of the field these guys are playing on. Like their template in Watain, Verbum Verus weaponize the use of melody in their songwriting. The melodies aren't dominant or catchy in any direct sense, but there is a strong distinction between Verbum Verus' melodious sections, and the parts where they get wilfully dissonant in their choice of notes. This, of course, is all true to the popular orthodox formula. Though the band are surely derivative with most of their approach, they do give the sound the dedication it deserves. Their production and musicianship shows a lot of tact for the atmosphere they're trying to evoke, and for what it's worth, they do a good job of bringing it through.

Verbum Verus seem woefully relegated to that back-avenue of bands who choose to consolidate the footsteps of bolder artists. That said, there were moments on Melkiresha I found myself surprised. "The Fourth Kingdom" opens the album with a characteristic atmosphere, but the band's restraint in keeping the tempo slow for so long does put them a mark above some of their impatient contemporaries. I am not sure what message there is to be gleaned from this observation, but I actually found the most evocative piece on the album to be the closer "Verbum Verus", a weird dark ambient piece that follows the album's ritualistic atmosphere to its natural conclusion. Melkiresha offers nothing new to any seasoned listener of orthodox black metal, but they've got it where it counts. I guess.

Originally written for Heathen Harvest Periodical.