The growing pressures of globalization, like any other massive force, often fall prey to the laws of physics and result in an equal force of localization – hence multiple urgings to “buy local” assailing you in almost any market you can imagine. As an underdog supporter by default, this is a very satisfactory outcome for my anarchic and anti-establishment genes. When this attitude can filter through into my musical tastes as well, you can only imagine my pleasure.
As such, the most recent EP by Utrecht-based duo Verval (who also share duties with better-known acts like Laster and Sea of Trees) is exactly what I need to kick against the deculturalized and derivative trash that pollutes the majority of airwaves – while still supporting the “home team,” as it were.
While only three songs are presented on Beeldenstorm – “Vlammenzee,” “Beeldenstorm” and “Een leven tussen één en nul” – it’s still a hefty offering for an EP, clocking in at just shy of 25 minutes. And it’s a densely-packed offering at that, crammed with excellent songwriting, quality production and really clever harmony work that’s just dissonant enough to qualify this as some top-notch black metal. The wailed vocal work – rather than just growled, screamed or grunted – leans a little more towards the DSBM end of the spectrum, but entirely suits the thick, leaden melodies and textures that typify this Dutch outfit’s sound, as seen in their 2018 debut record, Wederkeer. What has developed is the rhythm section, though, which shows far more caution and dexterity in its seamless shifts in pace and mood throughout.
This audio result, coupled with the controlled chaos of the cover art, makes the EP title all the more apt: a Beeldenstorm is, at its most literal, a maelstrom of imagery and that’s exactly what Verval captures on the recording. They inundate you with violence, fear and bleak despair, all teetering on a knife-edge of malice above some hungry maw eagerly awaiting your inevitable descent, a razor-lined pit of starvation from which you may never escape… but you still find yourself going back for more, eagerly anticipating the full-length album that Beeldenstorm no doubt heralds.
Listening to the EP closer, “Een leven tussen één en nul” is like taking a masterclass in contemporary black metal.
Beeldenstorm Track Listing:
3. Een leven tussen één en nul
Run Time: 24:24
Release Date: July 24, 2020
Record Label: Independent