Despite the general misconception from non-metal folk that our beloved art form is a one-dimensional game, in reality metal in 2016 is as wide-ranging as it’s ever been, offering a bevy of stylistic riches and impressive diversity in both the cultural and genre stakes. Death metal itself has morphed and mutated from its rank beginnings into a myriad of sub-genre offshoots to appease extreme tastes of all kinds. However, the competitiveness in the modern death metal market is also making it more and more challenging for bands to gain a solid foothold in the underground and stand out from the pack. Ohio young guns Verment, featuring a member of War Curse, have been plying their trade since 2012, returning with their second EP, Death’s Domain. Are they ready to throw down with other rising upstarts or destined to fade into death metal oblivion?
Performing a style of modern death metal infected with blackened and thrashy melodeath elements and lots of meaty groove, Verment play with admirable energy and showcase some decent chops without quite setting the underground aflame. Verment may sound decidedly modern but their influences are quite broad, with the darkly sinister melodies in particular recalling the early Swedeath scene. Right off the bat my first spin of Death’s Domain didn’t fill me with a great deal of excitement. Though subsequent plays have fared much better, it’s evident Verment still have a fair amount of growing to do. At times sounding like a burlier The Black Dahlia Murder, Verment are at their most engaging when weaving blackened melodies into a thrashy, aggressive delivery and cutting back on some of the more lacklustre groove sections. For instance the stuttering chugs on uneven closer “Parade of Filth” veer too close to deathcore territory for my liking. Elsewhere the grooves are more powerful, taking cues from chunk experts Aborted and Dying Fetus.
Early tunes “Casket Fever” and “Amon’s Wrath” are slickly performed tearaways boasting a potent mix of melody, aggression and groove with enough variations and tempo shifts to keep things interesting. While respectable songs neither gave me that giddy rush of adrenaline of being blindsided by an off-the-radar unsigned band. Still the enticing leads, burly delivery and confident execution offer decent examples of the band’s style and budding potential. And when they hammer down the balance of brutish aggression, thrashy blackened death and snaking melody on standout cuts “Wings of Bone”, “Vile Incisions” and the explosive “Chemical Indoctrination” the band’s rising star shines brightly. The guitar work in particular is strong across the board, particularly the impressive solo work, though a few more hookier riffs would have been welcome.
So while Death’s Domain is a couple of handfuls short of killer riffs the potential is certainly present in spades and overall it’s a solid and mildly enjoyable outing. The production offers ample heft and clarity but is another victim of excessive compression and the drums are a tad overbearing in the mix, otherwise it’s a respectable recording, particularly considering their independent roots.
Though Verment hasn’t quite wowed me to the point where I can strongly recommend this independently released EP, I’m still very much rooting for the band’s success. All in all it’s a mixed bag and if they can iron out a few deficiencies and refine their songwriting there’s certainly plenty of evidence here to suggest they could very well be headed for greater things in years to come.