Verlust channel black metal rage on religious atrocities on gruff, heavily melodic debut ‘II’

I’ve never been to Hawaii before, and I’m just going to guess I never will be because I don’t want to fly, and that sounds like a long time to be in the air. Oh well! But I’d imagine it’s amazing there, a place that just takes your breath away, surrounded by thousands of miles of ocean that makes it hard to get there and difficult to leave.

Yet, there’s a darkness in what seems like paradise, and that bubbles to the surface on “II,” the first full-length release from Verlust. Helmed by single musician J, the music on this effort does pay homage to the artist’s home in these isolated islands, including the rich nature surrounding everything there. There also is a history of religious persecution and violence done over the ages by missionaries (a topic we also broached last week with Heretical Sect), so J’s anger and violent lash back against Christianity based on that history also is woven in with blood into the music. This release is filled with second-wave black metal power, with a nice dash of melody for good measure, and the fury and ill intent that fuels the music is apparent and striking from the moment the initial sparks feed the fire.    

“Introduction” starts with birds chirping and nature unfurling as guitars slowly awaken, and the world comes alive as it heads toward “Vision of a Mighty Serpent” that rushes to life with as flood of melody. The drums crush as J’s savage growls eviscerate, while the pace stomps guts before settling into calm. The music trickles along before a new gust bursts and delivers rage and power, with J wailing, “The serpent crept forth, transformed to a new entity, androgynous and baphometic, goat and serpent, man and woman.” “Mountains” gasps open as great riffs encircle, and vile cries go hand in hand with the raucous blasting. The playing tumbles violently toward earth as the track turns relentless, jarring to the very end. “Promethean Fate” has raw melody jolting and growls tearing away. The drums rumble out of a brief respite with an explosive burst and J howling, “The mountains echo our insignificance, silent monoliths of eternity,” as the track comes to a fiery end.

“A Sword Turned Towards Heaven” punches in and crushes right away, drilling through rock and unleashing spellbinding guitars that leave you dizzy. That enrapturing tempo keeps building as the war is raged with great gusto, with J declaring, “Spew forth blasphemy! Ye are the true traitors! We destroy your sacred spaces, desecrating the remains, as we build monuments to your demise.” The force is storming and driven while assault continues its push until it crushes through the front gates. “Deep Dark Waters” wrenches with raw menace and a hammering approach that keeps wielding violent tools. The track slows a bit but remains impossibly heavy, though speed is a factor again later, the drums power the ship, and gears continues to spin until the smoke collects and chokes out everything. “A Door into Emptiness” tears open as guitars stir and the vocals scrape, while black metal majesty spirals into a volcanic attack. The pace is sweltering as the guitars play tricks with your mind, and the fury is complete madness, dismantling systems and heading into monster riffs. The track eventually begins to relent but only after earth and flesh are scorched, leading toward closing track “Outro (Farewell).” The instrumental piece has waters rushing, guitars trickling, and the force of nature at the forefront again.

J packs a lot of emotion, disgust, and homage into the eight tracks on “II,” an album that sharpens its blades and heads right into the heart of war. For a first record under the Verlust banner, this establishes them as another strong foot solider in the battle against oppressive faith and those who seek to continue harming the earth. Verlust see you as the enemy, and the only acceptable outcome is your total and unquestioned demise.   

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