Intimidatingly cold, harsh, and exhausting, the debut album from Dutch band Laster is an uncomfortable and at times difficult challenge, but for primal black metal exploration it is a must investigate for genre fans. De Verste Verte Is Hier contains four erosive and pestilential examinations of the senses, a quartet of grievous and emotionally spoilt sonic landscapes which beneath their corrosive atmospheres reveal provocative and immersive sketches of melancholy and pained expression.
Hailing from Utrecht and featuring members of Northward and Willoos, Laster is a duo which has already awoken ears and attention with their impressive 2012 demo, Wijsgeer & Narreman. Now they return with a startling sonic narrative and journey which is not always an easy listen but is a perpetually enthralling one.
Opener Alles wat mij bevalt, ontvalt me is a slowly unveiled brewing of malevolence and emotional distress, guitars coaxing air and ears from a distance but edging closer with every portentous note. There is little light in its heavy almost predatory presence and sound, rhythms and especially the bass an intimidating prowl of shadows feeding the oppressive breath of the track, a stifling which turns to suffocation as the sonic winds and squall of guitar and vocals spread their toxicity across the track’s fierce climate. It is a ravenous flight, grooves and melodic intrigue as cold and ruinous as the rest of the aural smothering but it is a compelling smog of emotionally charged and evocatively hostile sound.
The following Tot de tocht ons verlicht is just as intrusively biting and fascinating, its template similar to the first track but emerging with a different raw immersion of intensity and provocative hues. Grooves nag and with gravelly texture vocals wail whilst riffs and rhythms surge with tsunami like belligerence and merciless relentlessness. Within its extensive soundscape though, the track ebbs and flows with rhythmic bait and sonic expression, ensuring ears and imagination can never settle in one raw embrace. Emotively brutal and inhospitable, the track is as its predecessor a gripping drama of despair and ruinous invention.
Ik – mijn masker is the darkest and coldest embrace of sound and intent on the release, certainly the first stretch of its epic terrain is with vocals and rhythms a scourging antagonism and guitars sculpting a ferocious wall of stark merciless incitement. As its body shares and evolves its narrative though, a mellower cloud clasps the song and its intensity to take ears and thoughts on a still barbarous but also less forceful imaginative investigation. The track’s closing passage blossoms from this shift, lone keys providing a haunting melancholy within a diminishing raw breeze until they stand alone with open emotion and grief in their hands.
The album’s title track is the best of the four, its post punk/gothic dance from the first breath a riveting lure of shadowed drenched beauty and seductive resonance. The closer is so unlike the other trio on the release yet fits and suits their inhabitable narratives perfectly with its gloomy elegance and mesmeric charm. Clean vocals and morose yet buoyant melodies provide a glorious weave of hidden temptation and open despondency whilst the song as a whole makes a thrilling end to an impressive journey.
De Verste Verte Is Hier is for the black metal purist in many ways but Laster, especially in its final offering, veins the release with an enthralling merger of emotional turbulence and invention to warrant at the very least a full look from all genre and atmospheric metal fans.
De Verste Verte Is Hier is available now digitally @ http://laster.bandcamp.com/album/de-verste-verte-is-hier, on very limited solid dark blue shell cassettes through Broken Limbs Recordings @ http://brokenlimbsrecordings.com/product/blr030-laster-de-verste-verte-is-hier-cassette-preorder/ and on CD and forthcoming vinyl via Dunkelheit Produktionen@ http://dunkelheitprod.bandcamp.com/album/de-verste-verte-is-hier
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