Verberis- Vastitas

By Chris Dahlberg

Published on Tuesday, May 6, 2014

Iron Bonehead has maintained a pretty rapid pace when it comes to releases, and they’ve exposed me to plenty of promising bands that I might not have come across otherwise. One of their latest releases is Vastitas, a demo from New Zealand death metal band Verberis. Aside from their country of origin, the group is not releasing any information about themselves, choosing to let the four tracks on Vastitas do the talking. Initially it may sound like this is just another collection of murkier sounding death metal, which has become an increasingly crowded space in recent years, but Verberis manages to showcase some distinguishable elements.

Opening track “The Primordial Rift” puts the band in familiar territory, as they launch into faster paced death metal that has a very dense and murky sound. It’s the type of sound that quite a few of the bands on Iron Bonehead’s roster have gone for, as the first two track on Vastitas blends reverb drenched guitar leads and blasting drums together to create a very dense, cavernous sound. But the remaining three songs showcase elements that give Verberis a different feel than I was anticipating, as the amount of melody increases and the guitar leads really open up the overall sound. In some ways it reminds me of Bolzer, as there’s the same level of dissonance and an almost psychedelic feel to the leads, but Verberis does go in a direction of their own. The first couple of times through I wasn’t completely sold on the muddier sound of the demo as it seemed to obscure some of the nuances of the material, but I’ve come to appreciate it the more I’ve listened to Vastitas as it does give the group some different characteristics sound wise from some of the others that have gone for a similar style. There remains room for Verberis to further expand upon some of their melodic ideas and further develop their own identity, but the four songs on this demo do showcase quite a bit of potential.

Due to the way that the demo was recorded the vocals have a tendency to get swallowed up and can be a bit hard to make out in the overall mix at times, but this does seem to be a deliberate decision by the band. There are some moments where the vocals do break free and steal the spotlight for a few brief moments, and when they are more audible they’re along the lines of what you would expect as the band’s singer has a lower pitched growl that occasionally heads into some slightly higher pitches. It often felt like the growls were intended to become a part of the dense soundscape that Verberis had created rather than an individual element, and this may be an element of the group’s material that ends up being hit or miss depending on your tastes.

Vastitas may not have floored me in the same way that some of the other death metal and death/black metal releases that have come my way recently, but Verberis is able to take the murkier, dense sound and head in a direction that has a good deal of potential. When they hit their peak level and are able to channel elements of bottom heavy death metal and dissonant melodies this group makes a real impact, and if they can continue to capitalize on that expect to see this name mentioned quite a bit in the coming years.

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