1.The War of Mirk 04:56
2.Bone Mountain 04:00
3.Cain the Gatekeeper 06:13
4.Count Oken 03:09
5.Steps of Ice 01:44
6.Battle Through the Horde 02:55
7.Dark Hole 02:11
8.Struggle in the Abyss 04:24
9.Misery & Hate 02:09
10.Warrior of Chaos 03:30
11.Escape Destitution 03:22
Dark, early mornings are my favourite time of day. The air is still, bitter and cold and there is barely any human life surrounding me. This is my time, the time I put pen to parchment. As I sit by the pale yet dim light of the moon I press play on the next review I am about to compose. Today I am here to talk about Vér and main man Faidal’s latest release “Giants Of Mirk“.
Hailing from Manitoba in Canada and having been on the circuit since MMXXI what will soon become known as the year of the Plague like years before. We have seen Vér release four singles, one E.P. a split and two full length releases. This is certainly an achievement in such a short time, since this one man acts conception. So what does this new album hold and will we see just as much activity in the years to come.
Track 1) “The War Of Mirk” opens with a haunting synth effect this opening would be a very fitting sound to a horror soundtrack. The Distorted spoken word piece sounds ominous and deeply foreboding summoning the arrival of the hell storm that is to come.
As the riffs burst through my headphones it’s certainly noticeable from the outset that there is an element of black n roll to this track with that almost punk like undertone to it. This separating them from those of the B.M. genre who like to just play the usual cold tremolo tracks of old. This merging of the punk, black n roll element is certainly becoming a stern favourite with an other Canadian act like Spectral Wound incorporating little elements of the same.
However other acts like Carpathian Forest, Tsjurder and Tyrant to name a few have all done the same and you definitely get those vibes from Vér’s opening track. This is not a criticism by a long shot, if anything it just separates them from the flock that they could easily have pigeonholed themselves into from just the opening track.
Track 2 “Bone Mountain” starts out with a much slow and sluggish opening and it is here that the cold tremolo parts come creeping through. Backed by some synth work to elevate the tone of both creeping and crawling of this burdensome track, I’m loving the element of doom and enshadowing of this piece.
A stunning guitar solo mid way through breaks the slower elements down, the tones are both cold and harrowing at the same time. Having the title “Bone Mountain” fits this track so well as it gives a leviathan like feeling that something is lurking beyond and this is the soundtrack to your impending demise. To literally go from the black n roll of the opening track to this slow monolithic piece is nothing short of greatness.
It just proves that incorporating as many influences as possible is the way forward to keeping the listener both engaged and eagerly awaiting the next track.
Track 3 “The Gatekeeper” keeps the progression of that of the second track. It’s another slow and grinding number. The riffs are heavy and so slow. The little pitched harmonics in the background keep that edgy, evil almost threatening little moments alive. Mid way through the pace certainly amps up into a black thrash like attack, this elevates the track to an already new demonic level coupled with Faidal’s rasping and diaboli vocals.
Not before we come crashing down into the pits of the darkness once again. This slow sluggish track is almost like a death march and the drums certainly give you that element of feeling in both the beginning and towards the end of the track. It’s the sound of you walking cautiously through caverns on your way to meet the Gatekeeper. The little thrash attack in the middle that I mentioned is definitely a highlight, it gives you the feeling your running from the evil that’s lurking all around. However what the Gatekeeper may have in store for you may well be a fate worse than what you’ve already been subjected too.
Track 4 “Count Oken” is another slowish track but the highlights of little rock n roll drum fills keep you involved and the lead solos give it that little more intricate and sophisticated sound. This track has a very great nod to Metallica’s “For Whom The Bell Tolls” capturing a similar riff and beat pattern. Yes there is the sound of a bell tolling in the background too and I couldn’t place the familiarity of the tracks sound. Not till I heard the bell then it hit, this track while much slower than its influence if that’s even possible, still retains a almost regal feeling to it going by the title but there is still that little level of trepidation in the sound as the shadow of Count Oken is in the midst all around you.
Track 5 “Steps Of Ice” is one of the shortest tracks on this release, a shortened black attack on the senses, It offers no remorse and the music fits the titles so well. This hellish sound is the sound that happens when you slip and fall to your doom on the aforementioned Steps of Ice.
Track 6 “Battle Through The Horde” there is literally no time to dust yourself off after your spiralling tumble down the previous tracks title. Your soon thrust into battle as the title suggests. The elevated guitar parts sound like you are literally being attacked from all sides and the pounding of the drums is you taking every hit known to man.
However the second version of this track is where both the sound and the pace changes in your favour a short break and you get back into the battle, cutting heads off left and right. This is aggression at its finest and well portrayed well through the format of music. This album is slowly coming together and is telling a tale of days of old and just what happened on that fateful journey.
Track 7 “Dark Hole” is definitely that, it’s a spiralling nightmare of a riff, the rhythm guitar distorted and twisted sounds swirls around you and embrace you as you struggle to find your way down this dark and mirky hole. This sequence of these both choppy punk little track elements within the album certainly keep you on your proverbial toes and add another level of emergency within the story this album is unfolding.
Track 8 “Struggle In The Abyss” is another a much more thrasher sounding track with a great little drum intro it leads into the thrash attack of the guitars, the ferocity and speed at which all the instruments are played once again fit well with the title of the track once again. The feeling of struggle is definitely emphasised in every note and every beat as you battle the very darkness which is consuming you with every second you fight it. Moments where the lead guitar takes hold and you can hear faint little solos in the background are the little gems that lurk on this track. But the driving beat, bass guitar and the rhythm guitar are the driving force on this escalating gritty thrash number of a track. Once again another influence ticked off and well cemented into this landscape of an album.
Track 9 “Misery and Hate” sees us return to that almost Carpathian Forest or even Urgehal sound that Vér seems to incorporate so well. This galloping drum and riff filled number has definitely those moments you can bang your head too, there is almost a slight Death Metal style groove to it too. This is an all encompassing track and definitely will be a crowd pleaser if it was ever to be played live.
Track 10 “Warrior Of Chaos” takes us from one extreme to certainly another, from a galloping death/ blackened metal groove to that of the more ominous and impending doom style once again. The slower parts are thick, sludgy and suffocating, these riffs are slow and just crushing. This feels very Sabbath inspired in sound but with that darkened twist. As the bells tolling and the hint of monks chanting this shadowing opening amps up to a mid level break. It certainly changes up the feeling and the intensity, this is most definitely the chaos element to the tracks title. The track closes out with a total riff fest leaving you a little jaded after all that slow progressive opening.
Track 11 “Escape Destruction” has a much lighter sounding guitar part in it, just in the background behind the slower grinding sound of the rhythm is this almost uplifting indie guitar part. It’s a almost lively and uplifting riff. Definitely has those lighter notes and dare I say almost a Bloc Party element to them. Now I know this may seem like the weirdest addition or even comparison to have on a particularly mixed and heavy album. However it’s right there. This little indie rock n roll outro is brilliant. A great closer to a very well rounded album. And the tones, the beat and the rhythm of the whole song once again fit the title to a T.
In all this album has intact been a journey one of both sound and sight. The music has been the key structure in the telling of a story. One that has so many twists and turns and what VéR dips its toes into is a Manor of genres, from dungeon synth, black metal, death metal, doom, thrash and now indie music is just pure incredible. It’s taken most of the morning to get my head around the influences and sounds this band has achieved all upon one record. I’m sorry but if your going for the gold on this then Faidal has achieved this in spades.
This album is not only a mixture but a reviewers wet dream. It’s filled with so many highs and inspirational nods to bands either since past or ones you never expected and it is that, that makes music such a need for all of us. No matter what your preference I can assure you it’s captured on here. This is an all around breath of fresh air for the genre, one that could easily become stagnant and lifeless given the opportunity. This has been an experience and not one that I’ll ever forget.
Hails #Foras #LordOfTheShadows.