A haunting, dense and immersive listen, De Val is the second full-length release from Verwoed, the black metal multi-instrumentalist mastermind from Utrecht, Holland. Consisting of five sprawling tracks, De Val is an enthralling listen positively dripping with atmosphere, aggression and subtle, captivating melodies.
The title track ‘De Val’ opens the album in classic black metal territory, taking the listener into a dark world of abrasive, sinister guitars and pummelling drums that give way to some mighty tremolo picking and harsh, commanding vocals. As the pace slows during the track’s second half, melodic, psychedelic guitar leads are introduced, giving it a truly otherworldly feel. ‘De Kwelling Van Het Bestaan’ carries the same sinister tone as ‘De Val’ but has even more layers to peel back, with further tempo changes, recurring arpeggios and refrains that create a dense and intricate soundscape that is simply mesmerising. There are breakdowns, blast beats, thundering riffs and even Gregorian like chanting all thrown into the mix yet despite all this it’s an incredibly well composed song, never sounding chaotic or overcrowded. Indeed, throughout the numerous twists and turns the five colossal tracks on this album take, it never loses focus and stands as a flowing, cohesive piece of work.
Closer ‘Verder Van Het Licht’ is something special. Featuring mournful guitar riffs and both clean and harsh vocals, it contains some of the albums most moving and delicate moments, lending the album a broader emotional palette and depth than one would associate with the genre. Whilst it maintains much of the dark atmosphere that runs through the rest of the album, it also veers into progressive metal territory, further expanding Verwoed’s sound. The album’s production too strays away from the raw sound we come to expect of black metal – here we have expansive layers of music that sound rich and expansive, emphasising the album’s dark and melancholic atmosphere.
With the rich tapestry of sounds on offer here, De Val is an album to devour whole. Verwoed seem keen to push past the familiar tropes of black metal, incorporating elements of other genres such as prog and ambient to further expand their sound and have achieved that here to stunning effect. It’s this exact willingness to experiment coupled with the intricate and intelligent songwriting that makes Verwoed one of extreme metal’s most exciting and promising new acts.
Words: Adam Pegg