As we slam the door on the non-stop game of Russian Roulette that was 2016, we at Angry Metal Guy Enterprises, LLC collectively realize that the adage “the more things change, the more they stay the same” rings ever so true. New years always bring new promises. They also bring with them one-man black metal. Italy’s Derhead, helmed by one Giorgio Barroccu, enters the blackened arena with his debut EP, Via. However, there is a unique twist. Upon researching for this review, Via not only contains 3 new songs, but also his demos from 2003 and 2013, essentially his entire recording output to date. So, for the price of an EP, you get an entire catalog! Is this the (un)merriest gift of all, or will you be returning this at Blut Aus Nordstroms?

Listening solely to the three songs that make up the core of Via reveals Barroccu to have a bit of a flair for the French. Yes, the Blut Aus Nordisms are abundant, but Barroccu admirably keeps his influences in check, settling more for atmosphere than aiming for weirdness. His guitar lines do mimic Vindsval at times, especially the second half of “Via,” but there are worse heroes to emulate. Vocally, he keeps to a high rasp, sounding like a spirit awoken from its slumber after centuries of hibernation. For the most part, this is a respectable emulation of Blut Aus Nord‘s sound without the flashiness, but with a heap more atmosphere and ambiance. The barely 22 minutes of Via proper show a man on an interesting path towards darkness and notoriety.

So what of the other six songs on here? The 2013 demo songs fly at a remarkable clip, with Barroccu’s drum programming mostly eschewing variety for a frantic non-stop hyperblast. His vocals, while still raspy, possess better clarity than the new material. “Lamina” and “Circle” do hint at the atmospherics that Via wallow in, with the latter showcasing an incredible melodic crescendo near the end of the song to throw the listener off their game. The 2003 demos might as well have been an entirely different band altogether. Barroccu’s riffing sounds almost thrash-like, his voice mostly adheres to a low growl, and his drum programming possesses the least amount of variety on here. As such, I played the final three songs with less frequency than the rest of Via.

 

As expected with a discography, the production also varies. Obviously, the three new songs that comprise Via are the best produced, with the guitars retaining their bite when in full tremolo mode, and the bass cutting through when necessary. The three 2013 songs also sound incredible, with the guitar melodies shining throughout. The last three songs from 2003 comparatively (and predictably) muddle along, with the drums and guitars often blurring into one another. Oddly enough, the keyboards from the 2003 demos pierce through the fog, like a little kid screaming for ice cream at your grandmother’s funeral (on “I,” for example). Bleak, yet jarring.

That said, though, even without the extra tracks, I like where Barroccu is heading with his Derhead project. The three new songs exhibit some major promise, as he has already shown great command of atmospheric moments. And I gotta admit, those six tracks, while varying in degrees of quality and songwriting, make interesting snapshots of Barroccu’s development as a musician and songwriter. I can see Barroccu’s talent grow from here. Perhaps in a few years, people will be looking at Italy for new, blackened sounds.


Rating: 3.0/5.0
DR: 5 | Format Reviewed: 192 kbps mp3
Label:Via Nocturna
Websites: derhead.bandcamp.com | facebook.com/derheadband
Releases Worldwide: January 6th, 2017

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  • That’s some great unicorning to start the year with.

      • Juan Manuel Pinto Guerra

        I’m OK with the unicorn driving but I don’t understand what’s that cockatoo doing on the door handle.

        • Grymm

          Or the badger (I think) with the unicorn hat poking out next to the unicorn… DEAR GOD, WHY AM I ANALYZING THIS?!!?!

          • Juan Manuel Pinto Guerra

            I don’t think that’s a badger, that looks more like some kind of bird… DEAR GOD, WHY AM I ANALYZING THIS?!!?!

          • I found Waldo..

          • Grymm

            LOL So did I just now…

          • Juan Manuel Pinto Guerra

            I thought you were joking until I found Waldo too!

    • AjmsaenZ

      2017 is already looking good!

  • Dethjesta

    A 3.0 to start 2017. Very promising

    • madhare

      Judging by the tag cloud on the front page 3.0–3.5 seems to be the normal range here. (Which, in itself, is highly interesting considering the badass rep of the site! ;) So not quite sure whether that justifies calling this start anything else than “average” or “normal”. :D

      • Eldritch Elitist

        A 2.5 is an “okay” record in my book.

      • Grymm

        Because the good material is very good on here. That, and I keep coming back to the three main tracks. 2.5s don’t do that.

        • madhare

          I think you misunderstood me. I wasn’t commenting on this particular album. But the fact that “average quality” on AMG seems to actually be 3.0–3.5 instead of 2.5, as those are the most common ratings. And this is purely just based on me looking at your tag cloud, according to which you have the following number of posts for each grade:

          4.5 – 167
          4.0 – 375
          3.5 – 526
          3.0 – 546
          2.5 – 370
          2.0 – 232
          1.5 – 83

          • Bas

            I guess the impression of low scoring comes from the fact that the low scores attract more attention.
            I think that an album that gets a 3.0 here would be rated as 4.5 on other websites where a 3.0 would be considered quite bad.
            The numbers you show a give a nice bell cuve that shows that the average album is ‘good’ (which I understood as nothing wrong with it or as in this case the good overcompensating the bad) but not exciting…while 2.5 is just okay (the good and bad are in balance… or tending towards the bad…) with 2.0 the bad parts are definately dominant, and 1.5 is just plain bad, etc up to 0 where the albums are so bad that its just not clear how to interpret the album anymore (joke, mistake, art according to some, complete failure)..
            For positives I alsways saw 3.5 as an album where the reviewer is happy with the album (it is good and it contributes something positive, an improvement, to the artist’s discography), 4.0 as an album that the reviewer would definately buy, 4.5 and 5.0 as albums he or she is just crazy about…
            Anyway, I think one should relate the score always to the reviewer (and thus try to understand a bit what this person in general likes or dislikes in an album). That the reviewers on this site make this possible (because they produce well written reviews that often relate the listening experience to their own life or moment in their life) is according to me the great thing about AMG !

          • madhare

            Good points! And once more, I wasn’t complaining about anything. I think AMG and all the reviewers are doing a great job. But because 3.0 is the norm here, one can’t say that the first album of the year getting a 3.0 would be “promising”. :)

            Failed attempt at statistical humour I guess. My apologies. :)

          • Bas

            True !

  • AngryMetalBird

    HA! happy new year you bastards!!

    • Happy New Year to you too, Angry Bird!

    • Grymm

      Happy New Year to you as well, goddamnit!

  • GardensTale

    Bojack Unicornman?

  • Carlos Marrickvillian

    First unicorning for the year… must be a record

  • hallowed

    I wonder is there a band out there named Thekopf?

  • Eldritch Elitist

    I meant to only sample the first embedded track and ended up sitting through all three. I’d love to hear a full album of material that’s that good… Shame the bonuses aren’t up to snuff. Good review!

  • Diego Molero

    I knew it, I just knew it! What else the first review of the year could be if not a one-man black metal band with a freaking unicorn?

    • Juan Manuel Pinto Guerra

      Made me think of Vardan, who is still M.I.A.

      • Grymm

        Some needs to enjoy deep of checking up on him ASAP.

  • Juan Manuel Pinto Guerra

    That “Blut Aus Nordstroms” line? AWESOME!

  • Akerblogger

    Great review Grymm. Love that featured track. Is that the lead vocalist from Disturbed in the album artwork? Disturbing. He could do with a unicorning too- unicorns for all!

  • Joshua Walker

    Six days in and this is my favorite of the year so far.

  • The Unicorn