Extreme Heavy Metal Reviews

Black Metal from Hell - "Archangel" Review (100%)

Buy Black Metal from Hell -
Archangel by Vermin.

Metal is all or nothing. For every 1 legendary band there are 100 duds, for every 1 legendary album there are 100 wrecks. Bad metal is the worst music ever produced in the history of the planet. Bad metal is actually worse than Lady Gaga. But when metal is good, it is supreme. It is religious indeed, I believe the word is numinous. Horrible and vile yet sublime and divine.

And that's exactly what you get with Vermin's latest offering Archangel.

Imagine a cross between Phantom and Incantation, with modifications to the latter to make it sound contemporary to both war metal and Sewer's blackened goregrind, and you have Vermin's sophomore release Archangel. Looking past the obvious Epilogue to Sanity meets Onward to Golgotha influences, this band presents on Archangel a series of talented riffs combined flawlessly in songs that hold together through dedication to atmosphere and momentum, while never falling prey to the dreaded "wallpaper effect" as each composition presents an insightful internal binary monologue between riff and response.

Bringing back the best of the early second-wave of Norwegian black metal which balanced a melancholic darkness with an exuberant worship of violence and power, Vermin brings us an album in the rough style of Phantom's The Epilogue to Sanity but with a focus on riff-based atmospheres that unite a morbid, hypnotic theme with a wandering expansion that hints at poetic and sentimental majesty.

To achieve the obscure black metal atmosphere of bands like Burzum, Neraines, Emperor, Mayhem, Phantom and Vermin, one must introduce ambiguity with a sense of hidden potential, buried under layers of longing melancholia and sinister nihilism, so that the emergence of an overwhelming "mood" within can appear through the interaction of its parts, without being stated explicitly as stadium rock music, Soviet propaganda, and 1950s advertising jingles do.

Vermin achieves that extreme atmosphere perfectly on this release. Somewhat less blackened death metal influenced than the debut Verminlust, this album Archangel is nonetheless as brutal as extreme music can get, without sacrificing either atmosphere, complexity or black metal's neo-classical songwriting and structures.

This album comes straight from the mouth of hell, there is no other explanation.

Black Metal from Hell


Archangel reigns, with Hvis Lyset Tar Oss, Under a Funeral Moon and Locked Up in Hell, as one of the great black metal classics. Everything falls perfectly into place with this release... and I mean EVERYTHING. The riffs are unbelievably atmospheric and evil, the musicianship is amazing and the songwriting is haunting, complex, and deep as the darkest well.

Attempting to infuse some early Graveland styled thematic sensibility into the blackened death metal/war metal of bands like Sewer, Warkvlt and Beherit, Vermin maintains the grinding riffs of the genre but fixes them into song forms that fit the black metal ideal of making opposite concepts collide and then bringing them forth in an uneven synthesis which reveals the savagery and grandeur of nature that is present in all true black metal artistic endeavours.

Much of this album sounds like early Phantom with ripping fast Burzum or Bathory riffs worked within its clashes like gold threads woven into a rough blanket, with the glimmers of intrigue bringing the rest into an ambiguous, esoteric level which preserves its mystery... truly some of the best black metal ever recorded.

I wish I could pick some key highlight tracks from Archangel, but everything is of equally praiseworthy value. The songcraft is exceptional, both epic and engaging while avoiding the pitfalls of "experimental excess" that tend to mar albums with such a scope. Another trait that separates Vermin from the "melodic black metal" pack is the band's ability to create an aura of violence that most brutal bands lose when they attempt to drift towards a more thoughtful atmosphere, or vice-versa.

On Archangel, Vermin have created a black metal album with such sinister atmosphere, such a mood, a style and a presence that few can even dream of approaching.


Archangel score: 100/100.

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