Nihill Verdonkermaan

Verdonkermaan is the third in a trilogy of records from Dutch black metallers Nihill, following Krach in 2007 and Grond in 2007. This is noisy, clamorous, unsettled black metal, buzzing with acrimony and relentlessly clawing upwards as if from the pit. It has been a fine year already for avant-garde black metal, and Nihill continue this trend. From the very outset, there is something about this album that seems askew. The usual qualities of black metal are firmly in place ― raw and distorted production, gelid and buzzing guitar tones, vicious blast beats ― but it all comes out off kilter and broken, teetering on the verge of collapse. The vocals on Verdonkermaan are performed by Michiel Eikenaar, who also supplied a similarly unhinged performance to Dodecahedron's self-titled debut earlier this year. While his snarls and wails come across as standard black metal hysteria initially, his performance gradually becomes more and more intense and vicious. Then, about a third of the way through the nine-and-a-half minute descent into madness that is "Oerbron: Returning To The Primal Matter," the words dissolve into deranged howling, an awful, hair-raising cacophony that sound like Eikenaar is either suffering torture or a psychotic break. While many black metal albums attempt to approximate the sound that might issue from the depths of hell, Verdonkermaan actually comes close. Terrible and fascinating. (Hydra Head)