Verhern - Verhern

9 de out de 2009


- Verhern

“Don’t judge a book by its cover.” or “First impressions are everything.” Two expressions that contrast one another and two stereotypes that define the two differential sections of the metal world, when it comes to the fans, at least. Like policing systems, its hard for the average metal fan, particularly the black metal fan, not to work around some sort of offender profiling whereby the listener has these two contrasting methods of judging a band. One will assess the accessibility of the band by seeing how easy it is to find information about them, what sort of band ties that have, if there’s any associated bands that already blow our socks off, and all sorts of methods for working out whether or not a band is worthwhile listening it. Sometimes its easy to work on the basis on conjoining the two stereotypes, and this works in regards to Verhern, an obscure black metal band from the productive German territories. This three piece band seem traditional enough. No keyboardist, just two guitarists, one bassist and one percussionist. Of course, there is a clichéd rasping vocalist, too. The lack of information instantly addresses the listener with a traditional profile. Obscure, mystical and unhelpful in terms of providing any source of information surrounding the band. There isn’t even a band picture of the members. This is obscure.

Thankfully, I’ve dealt with bands like this before and I, myself, am beginning to build up an image of this band and what their sound is like. However, as the first expression tells us not to do - do not judge a book by its cover, despite the fact that often, first impressions are everything. Generally speaking, the latter expression applies more so to the instrumentation than it does the outside influences like the band members, associations with other bands and record labels and pictures, but to a lesser degree. The latter most certainly must be applied here to the instrumentation because, even though I was surprised by the content, it is, generally speaking, very productive. This self-titled piece begins precisely as I would have expected - whirlwind black metal based on the idea of forcing atmosphere on everything, including the listener. Although my attention was not fixated on the band at first, believing this to be just another obscure entity who’s sound is similar to that of 90% of the bands aiming to rejuvenate the old school in the modern day scene, I was wrong. This band has a lot of charm to them, despite the annoying habit of shrouding themselves in mystery. It would be nice, and perhaps useful for the listener to know who exactly operates within this band. Associated bands don’t really give us much of a hint as what to expect with only the drummer being present in other bands, most notably Purest, whom I have heard before.

The best comparison I can muster is with fellow German band Kargvint. In fact, their sounds are almost identical the more I think about it. This leads me to believe profiling works within music, too. For example, each scene, including the German scene, works around similar ideas unless we’re dealing with highly avant-gardé bands who seek to rid the scene of stereotypes. Let it be known, not all clichés are bad things. The fact that Germany has a black metal identity in the underground that is similar between many bands more so than not isn’t a negative reflection. Kargvint’s style of hypnotic haze can be likened to outside factors - think Velvet Cacoon for your most obvious, well known example. The style is primarily based around the guitars - which are usually the most important element of black metal soundscapes anyway, in a general sense. Of course, it can differentiate from the normal, formulaic standard, but it rarely does and when it does, people often cower away from the unknown, calling it inane instead of brave and courageous. Experimentation is acceptable within black metal, yes, but usually within a certain frame. Fans don’t generally want to hear power metal styled vocals in black metal bands, though that might be interesting to hear. They want the bass to affect the ground work more, or subtle elements to flow like a slow stream, somewhere high up in the mountain tops where no one can visibly take notice of it unless they specifically look for it.

The elements that can be called experimental need to be small enough to fit perfectly into the soundscapes without ruining the true essence of the band. Bands like Verhern, who’s self-titled debut does that, and Kargvint work around a national identity that allows them to sound similar, whilst fixating the listener on their own individual methods of subtle play. For example, the bass on this record is more visible than on the majority of Kargvint’s work, or even Velvet Cacoon’s work. Though the fuzzy mist of the distorted guitars still reigns supreme, these subtle elements that add menace to the musical interpretations are quintessential to the overall sound. Whether this is a method used by a band as well known as Velvet Cacoon, or as obscure as Verhern, its just as important. Take songs like ‘Ruinen Toter Existenz’ as the prime example of this. One guitarist generates the whirlwind affect that Kargvint supplement into their music, whilst the other plays a cleaner style alongside the slowly entrancing bass. This combinational style is classic, but you have to ask yourself why that is. Because it is so affective. This band, on the surface of things, sound like any other, but when you take them apart and evaluate their sections piece by piece, you will come to realise, like I did, that they’re accomplished musicians and capable of deceiving because of that fact. Do not judge this book by its over.

Original review at:

Black Metal, Germany
Full-length, Fimbul Prod./Eternity Rec.
August 8th, 2008

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