I have to confess things haven't been exactly smooth sailing in the last couple of months on a personal level. Music is always a big factor in the process of making me feel better. There is not a day or hour that goes by that I don't have my fix of music. And even though I loathe the use of the word 'eclectic', my taste in music is exactly that, eclectic... Different genres for different moods and even though that mood is mostly gloomy and negative (although I am capable of laughter, don't worry), there is still a broad spectrum of bands and artists that cater to that mood. Sometimes though, there is an album that is so oppressive and so nihilistic (pun 100% intended) that it almost physically bothers me to listen to it. Even though my part-time 'job' is to review albums on a regular basis, those albums require such a specific mindset that I tend to postpone reviewing them until that specific mindset is there. Which is basically a very, very lengthy way of explaining why the merry lads of Nihill and our dear readers have had to wait for such a long time for the review of their latest bucket of bile. Fear not though, because the mindset is finally there.
Dutch black metal horde Nihill have had their previous two releases on Hydra Head, which is how they rightfully gained international recognition. 'Verderf', their fourth full-length finds them on Burning World Records, a label that needs no further introduction when it comes to quality releases. Nihill have never been the most subtle of black metal bands, opting to go for the in-your-face approach, and 'Verderf' is no exception. If anything, it is even more brutal than the previous albums. One thing that really stands out is that the whole album is so very noisy. And I don't mean as in dirty riffs or disgusting vocals. It has plenty of those. No I mean the constant walls of screech, hiss and feedback in the background. It is a genuine whirlwind of chaos and malevolence. The album even opens with a proper Power Electronics piece in the form of 'Ghoul' that almost rivals Masonna, Whitehouse, Merzbow and the likes with it's fierceness. After that the proverbial gates to Hell are opened with 'Carrion Eaters' and the album never stops to take a break after that. There is an amazing depth in the sound and I urge everyone to listen to this with some good quality headphones because the layering of all the sounds is really second to none. You can enjoy the album as it is, a brutal black metal assault on your senses, but truly immersing yourself in the sounds reveals that depth that few other black metal bands achieve. Noise as a proper instrument. Not just noise for noise's sake. Take the track 'Engorged' for example. Most black metal fans will struggle to keep themselves entertained with almost 11 minutes of pure Noise/Power Electronics but it is so much worth the effort. The album ends with the mighty track 'Ossuarium' which is magnificent mid-tempo, ugly slab of black metal but again those walls of wailing feedback battling in the background lift it to a height rarely reached by other bands that dabble with the noise influences..
As a PE/Noise fan I am hugely looking forward to hear where Nihill will take these influences in the future, but for now I am very much impressed to hear a band actually creating a proper hybrid of black metal and noise, without sounding forced or fabricated. A band that caters to two big musical loves of mine deserves nothing but the highest praise..