Vermörd – Nostalgic Predictions Review

What could it mean to be Nostalgic about a Prediction? As the one implies backward-looking longing, and the other forward-looking anticipation, the suggestion is of a mysterious, conflicted deja vuVermörd may not have been aiming for anything other than a cool-sounding quasi-oxymoron in titling their debut LP Nostalgic Predictions. Nonetheless, it provides a suitable metaphor for this album: an erratic, confused ride you’re sure you’ve heard before.

Vermörd play blackened tech-death, which ought to be exciting but isn’t. Noodly guitar flourishes on the back of blastbeats (“Festerhate,” “Cenotaph Mirari”) are lustreless, and varied compositions feel not dynamic, but irregular and paradoxically dull. For the most part, the music is unmemorable, relying on the listener’s general appreciation for the sub-genres involved, without really gratifying a fan of any. Lovers of Necrophagist’s vicious and twisting compositions will be disappointed, as will appreciators of Emperor’s grand atmospheres. Yet Vermörd cite both as components of their sound. Indeed, they are just that: pieces, with little connection. With hardly a moment to enjoy a riff before the mode switches, but too little vivacity or invention in them to be thrilling, it can be hard to pay attention. Isolated passages of success cannot save the whole.

Nostalgic Predictions is an instance of a band tacking styles together, rather than blending them. It is this which makes it feel disjointed, and at times generic. It’s most egregious when the unevenness highlights genuinely good material. A rousing d-beat (“Realm of the Unknown,”) epic ascending riffs (“Odyssey,”) and melodically thrilling blackened fury (“The Nine Circles,” “Gates”) showcase how good tech death can sound when married to black metal. These moments are just long-lived enough to be noticeable, but too short-lived to elevate their respective songs, or the album. Sandwiched between this treble-heavy, largely dissonant majority lies fully instrumental “Nightstar,” which plays out its spooky, key-heavy tunefulness for four and a half minutes. Sure, it’s nice, but it’s so out of place I kept thinking I’d somehow accidentally changed albums. I haven’t even mentioned the needless thirty seconds of “Intro” that whines without meaningful segue into “Dissimulation.” The existence of these tracks exemplifies the complete separation of the atmosphere from the heaviness. With the exception of “The Nine Circles”‘ midsection, there’s never an audible synth line in the metal, and the timbre is consistently mood-less, in dire need of an injection of this severed ambience and character.

The end result is something that’s both hyperactive and dull. Though most songs sit between 4 and 5 minutes, they drag surprisingly due to their mercurial habit of flitting from one pace, key, or subgenre, to another. Rinse and repeat, for nigh on 60 minutes. Couple this with a flat DR, and you’ve got a recipe for tedium. The album could easily have lost half its material and been better for it. Although the constant switching can sometimes be strange, I must admire vocalist Zach Thomsen’s proficiency both for blackened shriek and death growl. I’m also hearing a great deal worth applauding from Zak Kempler behind the kit. His and Yianni Papaeracleous’ guitar playing, during the above-noted high points, can be very cool. These guys are clearly talented, but their fluctuant construction is not doing them any justice. 

There was apparently a lineup change between the 2015 EP Dawn of the Blackened Harvest, and now. This makes Nostalgic Predictions a new era for Vermörd, both as a debut and a change of identity. At this point it seems they haven’t found their feet. My prediction is that they have quite the long road to success ahead of them, because right now my only nostalgia is for a different band.

Rating: Bad
DR: 5 | Format Reviewed: 320 kbps mp3
Label: Self-released
Websites: |
Releases Worldwide: April 8th, 2022

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