Last year, a big deal was made when Unlocking the Truth, a young metal band, was signed to a multi-million dollar deal by a major record label. One read of the story howled “publicity stunt” to me, and now a year or so later, there’s hardly anything coming out of that camp other than carefully planned interviews and them wanting out of the deal.
I’m not knocking the band. Obviously they have talent, and they’re kids. Who doesn’t want to sign a huge record deal at that age and make money? It just felt all icky seeing these kids exposed, and it seemed the only real reason they were made a huge media deal is because they’re kids who can play instruments well. That brings me to Vermörd, a blackened death metal band out of Maryland whose members range in age from 16-19. And they fucking rip. Hard. For real. They play a brand of metal that harkens back to the early ’90s, when they weren’t even alive, and they play with such a passion and intensity, it’s stunning to hear them. And here’s the thing: It really doesn’t matter how young they are. Their debut “Dawn of the Black Harvest” would be good no matter how old they are because it’s intense as hell. It’s a great sounding, amazingly well-executed record, and the fact that they’re so young is more a side note. Young musicians made this, sure, but the important thing is they crush skulls!
The band itself is comprised of vocalist Zach Thomsen, whose ability to toggle between black scream and death grunt is astounding; guitarists Brad Weddle and Yianni Papaeracleous; bassist Alec Klimm; and drummer Zak Kempler. The guys dig deep into sounds made a part of metal’s DNA by bands such as Emperor, Dissection, Mayhem, Decapitated, and groups of that ilk, and they do it with incredible savagery. I recall Noel from Grimoire, who smartly signed up this band and is releasing “Black Harvest” digitally and on CD and cassette, sending me their Soundcloud files early in the year to get a taste of this record, and I instantly was blown away. Hearing the whole record, that promise I heard at the turn of 2015 is fully paid off on this great collection.
“Disciples of Shakhburz” opens this six-track, 21-minute scorcher as a sort of introduction piece, a synth-led instrumental that chills with its dark orchestration and whets your appetite for the carnage ahead. That starts to pay off heavily on “Plagued Eyes From the Scrolls of Xafmirtas” that is built on huge riffs, decimating drums, and an ultra-black atmosphere delivered steadily by the fierce shrieks that erupt from Thomsen’s throat. There are some great melodies among the absolute bloodshed, and at points, the band gallops heavily, as if they have no other mission but destruction. The song even has an uptick toward the end, as the guitars reach a boiling point, and the band drives this thing to delirium. “Ophite Cultus Satanas” rips open, with the guitars setting everything ablaze and the vocals switching from demonic to acid reflux coarse. The bass has a bigger presence here, cutting its steely way, and the final moments are dressed in grim fury. Killer cut.
“Encrimsoned Baptism” has guitars sprawling all over, leaning into classic death and thrash and making a gigantic explosion. In fact, some of the music here dips into prog, in the deadliest possible manner, and the cymbals take a particularly rough beating. The song later simmers in pure death metal hell, with sections going for the throat and the vocals dripping with ill intent and conviction. “Derodidymus” is a smasher and the song wisely chosen as the first one to be shared with the Internet at large. It is massive in scope and so violently played, with the lead guitars generating suffocating smoke and the pace sounding unforgiving. But just when you think the song couldn’t possibly have another gear, the band proves you wrong, unleashing a swaggering, Earth-decimating burst that might have you throwing furniture all over your living room. When that moment hits, and you’ll know it, it’s all rules tossed out the window. Closer “Dark Harvest” is the curveball of the group with moodier, cleaner tones worked into the mix, a feeling of sorrow permeating. Yet the vocals remaining as vile and animalistic as ever. It’s a nice change of pace, proof the band has more tricks up their sleeve that they’ll reveal when the time is right. It’s a really strong finisher, with the guitars sounding great once again, and as the thing reaches its final resting place, it rises up to deliver one more blast, just for good measure. What an awesome finish.
Yeah, it’s impressive Vermörd’s members are so young and already this good. But that’s not the reason “Dawn of the Black Harvest” is such a toppling effort. No, it’s because of the music and the band’s performance. If in a few years this band doesn’t have a higher profile and isn’t recording for a major metal indie label (no offense to Grimoire, who we love!), then someone isn’t paying attention. This very well could be metal’s future here bleeding all over the underground and creating music this powerful on their first damn recording. Pay attention to Vermörd, because soon they’ll be the real deal dominating what sprawls out of metal scribes mouths, your truly included.
For more on the band, go here: https://www.facebook.com/pages/Verm%C3%B6rd/135254779916681
To buy the album, go here: https://grimoirerecords.bandcamp.com/album/dawn-of-the-black-harvest
For more on the label go here: http://www.grimoirerecords.com/