Review Summary: creatively stark and dense, Verdonkermaan, is a harrowing work of horror mixed with art
Nihill, for lack of a better word, are abrasive. This isn’t necessarily a band you gift wrap for your grandmother and declare “the greatest Christmas present to be given!” this holiday season. And yet, Verdonkermaan
, the third and final album in Nihill’s excruciating trilogy (following 2007’s Krach
and 2009’s Grond
), has been blessed with a review from PopMatters. Oh how the world turns. I don’t truly intend for that to alarm anyone in any sort of way, it’s merely adhesive to the construct that is Nihills’ building of confusion. This Netherlands-based black metal outfit is anything but welcoming, in fact, I try to avoid listening to Verdonkermaan
after sundown; which makes it so intriguing how absorbing Nihill really is – made evident by the beauty hidden within this mess of a monster release. Keep in mind, however, that beauty is in the eye of the beholder.
Creatively stark and dense, Verdonkermaan, opens with no remorse as “Vuur” warbles in amass crass howls and a whirl of cacophony that breaks beyond madness and plunges into a void where sanity could not possibly exist. The tempo here is a trudge that refuses to build upon a comfortable foundation; it’s a painful ten minute crawl that encompasses an atmosphere of the most desolated. Thankfully, there is plenty of breathing room, but the air is unclean and wrought with a grittiness that’s recently infused itself in modern experimental black metal. So take your reprieve with a grain of salt because Nihill live on their ability to shift the dynamics of a song. “Oerbron” feels like LSD in musical form with heavy plodding to accompany its batshi
t crazy aesthetics that swallow the listener from start to finish. This flows (flow is a loose term here) gracefully into the absolutely haunting “Gnosis Part IV” – whispers, eerie looping and all – the song is a triumph for how far Nihill have come from their debut Krach
. Michiel Eikenaar, known for the more “accessible” Dodecahedron
, has certainly pushed the envelop with Verdonkermaan
, creating “songs” in the sense that, yes there’s music, but, challenging the idea of what most would consider “music”.
Throughout it’s forty minute entirety Verdonkermaan
uproots itself time and again after laying down, mostly, satiable foundations. Whether those roots stem from black noise or completely barren feedback is a moot point because these tracks evolve in a truly organic fashion; it is an active listening requirement, to always be on guard of what lie ahead and to truly absorb what came before; connecting the dots often becomes the most satisfying way to enjoy Verdonkermaan
, and anytime one finds enjoyment from this intentional terror then they have also succeeded in understanding the true nature of Nihill. Though about as discordant as a hurricane within a black hole, Nihill are filled to the brim with talent and potential, marked by their ability to turn the most horrifying of situations into a work of art.