Death metal that’s been given the breath of life
I must be starting to sound like an incredibly biased reviewer considering the bad press that I've given a lot of death metal albums lately. But in my opinion, it is a genre that requires precision, originality and creativity in order to take what should be a putrid, inaccessible sound and make it accessible to a wider audience. Death had what it takes, Benediction have it, Cannibal Corpse have it, and a listen to Define: Devine will reveal that yes, Vermin have it as well. For those of you who are unacquainted with the five-piece from the Netherlands, Vermin are hardly new to the scene, as they have been around since 2002, in the time releasing two demos and a a full length album A Nihilist Swarm in 2005, also on their current label Deity Down.
The band have made their music stand out from the wave of bland, imitation death metal that's flooded the market over the last few years by infusing it with elements of thrash, hardcore and littering it with well subtle progressive elements that really put the band's creativity and technicality to the test. The opening track Inferiorganism is a heavy instrumental with thrashy riffs and raw, double kick drumming, and it really lets you know that you're about to hear something pure fucking evil.
Quite often you can recognize a thrash influence on a band when they introduce catchy vocal and guitar hooks into climatic moments of the songs, but Vermin are more subtle than this, never alienating the avid death metal fans whilst giving other fans something that they can enjoy.
I Walk Among You is one of the stand out tracks with a slow, chugging doom-laden rhythm introduced by spoken narrative. The later tracks on the album are definitely the real gems, as the guitar technicality is taken one step further with some killer guitar solos, including some tone-queer lead guitar in Nucleus, which creates an atmosphere of obscurity and a defiance for the normality.
At this point in the album I was pretty damn happy with what Vermin had cooked up, and all but a couple of the tracks offered me something interesting and fresh to bang my head to. The album is closed suitably with an almost epic sounding instrumental with a bass driven undertone, but the overtone is still sinister.
People say that you can't flog a dead horse. Either death metal is far from being that dead horse, or Vermin have found a way to keep that horse going by bashing it with a bit of force. Death metal should be appreciated by metal fans, as there are very few bands that can actually take the traditional structure of the genre and breathe it with new life. Define: Devine is a very worthy listen, and hopefully this will be the release that gives us a chance to see a lot more from Vermin in the near future.
(Deity Down Records)