Hydra Head Records
Nihill - Verdonkermaan 2LP
Released by Hydra Head Records, description from the label: Holland's Nihill are one of the few bands in current circulation to which some of black metal's most common musical descriptors actually apply. Theirs is music of a truly relentless, cold and unforgiving nature, one which offers little or nothing in the way of relief or comforting melody. Though their albums are often punctuated by stretches of near silence or hushed ambience set between walls of frenzied blast and pummeling churn, these lulls serve to bolster the threatening whole in their absence of recognizable musical footholds. The winding paths laid by their music may be lightless, but the journey down them is one well worth taking. Verdonkermaan is the third installment of a trilogy that began with 2007's Krach, and delves further into the churning cosmos as mapped out by its predecessors. Opener "Vuur - the Deathwind of Resurrection" serves as a devastating introduction to the album, replete with scalding washes of caustic guitars, and a howling backdrop that threatens a continual consumption of the foreground without ever fully taking over. Downshifting in tempo, but not in intensity "Spiral - The Taileater" brings the listener fully into the shadowy fold, with a hypnotic combination of cascading single note bends and insistent low end throb. From this peak of maximal force, through the dizzying cycle that closes out the album, many lines are cast into the pitch, but all remain firmly tethered to a dark hearted center. It's precisely this ability to transverse a multifaceted terrain without ever losing course that give the album its undeniably potency and obsidian allure. Considering Verdonkermaan unto itself, as well as the trilogy to which it belongs, it's readily apparent that Nihill have established themselves fully and firmly with these stark and ferocious musical proclamations. While their efforts are clearly built on the foundational pillars erected by the early founders of the genre, they have added their own singular and acidic tongue to the modern lexicon of black metal. Though self imposed obscurity is the proud badge of many who've tread this particular realm of sound, the existence of Nihill and their freshly completed trilogy should not be overlooked by those who seek to stare longingly into heart of darkness.