VERDUN - The Eternal Drift's Canticles

Verdun - The Eternal Drift's Canticles

5 songs
55:12 minutes
***** ****


Founded in 2010, French quintet Verdun released a first EP two years later. Since then they must have been working on their debut longplayer The Eternal Driftís Canticles, a five song behemoth that makes it to fifty-five minutes, with the songs ranging between ten and thirteen minutes. Coming from the Southern French town of Montpellier, the band still decided to name themselves after the North-Eastern city Verdun, which also happens to be the location of one of the most brutal battles (with nearly a million casualties in 1916) of the First World War.

And the band name couldnít be more fitting to the bandís exceedingly gloomy sound. The musicís foundation is a mix of the crawling slowness of doom metal and the painful slo-mo brutality of sludge metal, with occasional bouts of blackened hardcore thrown in for good measure. Now a lot of bands are currently doing something similar, but Verdun still manage to set themselves apart from the competition. First of all, all of their songs, apart from the concluding Jupiterís Coven, start with two minute intros that really set the mood for what is to come. Letís start with the opener Mankind Seppuku, whose droning intro is played either on a chord organ or a harmonium, delivering a bucketful of minor chords before all of a sudden the band joins in in a lavaesque slow motion rhythm that gives you the impression of being stuck in pungent hot molasses. The vocals are mostly an incantatory moan, with some screams inserted to add an even deeper sense of suffering. Halfway into the song, things become mellower again, resulting in a wonderfully woeful guitar solo that shows that these guys even understand the melodic components of their chosen genres. What is also striking is how great the production is. All of the instruments have a very clear part in the mix, and especially the bass guitar manages to stand out without overly relying on rumbling low end madness.

The second track Self-Inflicted Mutilation starts with a strange voice narrating something in a foreign language, some kind of incantation probably, while a lone guitar is adding shattering drone riffs that feel like Sunn O))) covering early Hellhammer. Yet again when the actual song starts, the production values are once again top notch, coming at you with a well balanced mix of monstrous brutality and utter desolation. Itís no different for Dark Matter Crisis which starts like a funereal western movie soundtrack. With nine and a half minutes this is also the shortest song on the album. Much the same can be said for the final two tracks. Often doom metal bands forget the variety within their usually quite long songs, but not so Verdun who come up with lots of different parts, even though they also take some time to come to an end, but that is what happens when you perform at about 50 bpm.

Fans of classic doom metal might find The Eternal Drift's Canticles possibly somewhat too unsettling, but fans of more extreme metal will certainly cherish the bandís intricate mix of sludge and doom metal. The vocals that vary between thoroughbred doom laments and hardcore screams add even more depth to the music. Verdun have managed to make their first longplayer count, and one can only hope that they will be rewarded for it.

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