VERBERIS is still less known band, but this does not detract them from their qualities and especially originality. It's still just a few days ago as I wrote a review of their "Vexamen" debut and gushed over their methods of Black / Death Metal performance. The band comes from New Zealand and it is difficult to find something about them, their creativity and vision say it all. Today there are many bands in this genre that prove to create something fresh and unheard, but VERBERIS are literally the masters of it. It was not accident Iron Bonehead taken notice and released their strong debut. We spoke to the DA (guit).
I would begin with your "Vastitas" demo (2014). How can you see it over that time? Has the music already been the right basis and style so as you have set for yourselves?
As with most bands, I’d assume, there was little consideration into VRBRS’ future and potential at the time ‘Vastitas’ was written. Despite being released in 2014, the tracks contained were written in 2012 to create a release for an internal force that needed to be manifested.
This stuff was distributed only in digital format and tape under Iron Bonehead, so you were under a very good label from the beginning. Could you write how did you get cooperation with them?
There is not much to say besides that after having finished recording ‘Vastitas’, a song (Fangs of Pazuzu) was sent to a few different underground labels to see if any were interested in releasing it on tape. Patrick saw the potential and here we are.
Personally, I have always been feeling something special in bands from Australia and New Zealand in terms of atmosphere, originality, peculiarities, as if you were world itself and this is reflected in your artistic and creative vision in some way. Can you see it alike or you take it more individual?
I can hear it as numerous bands might share not only members and influences but also recording and engineering practices. When I think of that Antipodean ‘sound’, I think it’s trademarked by the very low tunings, murky atmosphere and visceral aggression translated into aural form. Australia and New Zealand have birthed some of the most savage and violent metal bands to come into existence—that is undeniable. And yet many bands, in my opinion, do not rise above a certain level within the underground. This might have a lot to do with most bands not being able to tour as much in the areas necessary for labels to justify their full support, or with band members not feeling the need to constantly work on their projects due to the limited options for growth in such a small and remote scene.
Either way, the concept of ‘scenes’ tends to be used more from an outsider’s perspective. For example, I don’t think VRBRS has a typical New Zealand ‘sound’, though there might be a few production elements that might make a listener draw the connection.
I have to say your "Vexamen" debut is a charming and specially interesting work, just so it can get the epithet original, immersive, dark. Similar music is hard to find. Some recordings show their originality until later after more spinning, in special harmonies, procedures. I had that feeling from the start of listening to "Vexamen". Do you take your music as originally conceived Black / Death Metal?
Thank you, and very much so—originality along with sincerity are very important to me as a composer. I value these two qualities very highly and as such I am quite indifferent towards 90% of the (underground) metal music that gets released. This is not only on a musical level but even on a lyrical/conceptual level. Who am I to deprecate someone else’s experiences (especially when they are spiritual), but I for one am a bit tired of seeing band after band release albums with the same specific ideas, motifs, symbolism, numerology etc. that has been done countless times before, for example. That is not to say that I am unable to enjoy music which isn’t completely original and sincere, but it rarely leaves a lasting impression on me personally unless the music is very well crafted.
Interestingly the Metal Archives, although I do not attach any extra credibility to it, compared you to Death Karma, a band founded by Slovak musician, namely from the area of our webzine. How do you take this comparison and how do you like their music?
That is an odd comparison to make but not one that I take negatively. I have listened to their last album and the music is solid, though I would be more interested in learning about the research that went into the concept behind it.
Your debut is out still a while so I'd like to know how people respond to that work around the world? Do they mention also your original approach? I don't find your music as completely classic and typical Black / Death Metal, although similar atmosphere and feelings are there...
The most common observation that I have read about ‘Vexamen’ is about the original-sounding and perhaps somewhat unorthodox musical ideas. For the open-minded listener this seems to produce a positive response whereas the more closed-minded listeners turn away. Are the songs too long for you? Then perhaps listen to something more superficial that demands less of your attention. Such people will certainly not like the new material that is taking form. There is an art to creating well-crafted short songs but I am more interested in music that takes time to explore and develop ideas—especially in terms of building up tension and release.
I like you are not trying to go the way of utter extreme, I mean you don't go superficially over the speed, brutal energy or orthodox tremolo riffs. Although all of these above mentioned attributes dwell in your music, there is still a room for scary mid and slower vibrations, compositional sense. How do you create your music?
I can appreciate knuckle-dragging primitiveness, but going back to what was said about originality and sincerity, there is little room for development beyond those self-imposed restrictions on an artistic level, and stagnancy along with a false-sense of permanence have no place in VRBRS nor my own personal life.
While there was a blueprint of death metal that served as prime inspiration for the musical material of ‘Vastitas‘, since then the approach has been more of need to translate emotions and feelings into musical form. I listen to a variety of musical styles and these different influences filter through the subconscious into my writing.
Music always manifests first but only because, at least for the moment and much of the time leading up until now, I have had little interest in expressing my spiritual and metaphysical perceptions using the construct of language. This will change in the future I am sure as I look into tangents of teachings and practices of specific sects, but ultimately the core of all of this is both wordless and thoughtless.
What would you say to your production? Did you have a clear idea in advance how will "Vexamen" sound? I think you have created a special and hard to define atmosphere also because of the sound, it is not something typical and routine, you have not used even so much filthiness. But even though you have managed to achieve the darkness, gloom...
There wasn’t much thought about the specifics besides wanting a raw, unpolished yet still audible sound, akin to, say, Katharsis, for example. The drums, bass, guitars and vocals were all recorded separately in different locations using DIY techniques and the album was mixed internally. I don’t think it’s perfect but I am satisfied with the results.
I think you are different not only for strange and bizarre harmonies in the melody, but also for the sound of guitars and significant bass guitar. How did you get this sound?
Even though I am primarily a guitar player, my first instrument was the bass guitar and as such I understand the vital role that this instrument plays. Yes, you can get a pretty good overall sound without a bass guitar (though this is rare) but I don’t believe that those low frequencies can be covered adequately using an electric guitar alone, regardless of how low you tune. And of course it doesn’t help if the bass guitar is barely audible in the mix either.
On ‘Vexamen’ the bass guitar sound itself isn’t very unique but it was brought to the forefront for the above-mentioned reasons. As for the guitars, I play a guitar that would be considered very unconventional for metal—especially extreme metal. No pedals were used but some reverb and delay as added in post-production.
Here comes another interesting question, where do you draw inspiration for your music? What music did you grow up on and how does it affect you to this day? Or is it rather the sphere of today's bands? What music are you actually listening routinely in your band?
I was around 15 when I discovered what was referred to as the orthodox/occult black metal ‘wave’ as the seminal albums of bands like Funeral Mist, Katharsis, Antaeus, Deathspell Omega and Watain were being released (or had recently been released), and the influence of it in terms of what music could be used for (you could say a ‘higher purpose’) was paramount for me. Anything else I was listening to before this point is irrelevant. I’ve continued this approach in the various projects that I’m involved in whereby the concepts and lyrics I write have to be of great importance to me personally.
As mentioned I listen to different genres of dark music that influence what I write in different ways, but for the new material that is waiting to be recorded I had been listening to mainly Swallowed, Heresiarch and Qrixkuor.
Your cover artwork was painted by Artem Grigoryev. Have you contacted him or he was recommended to you? How was your cover artwork made, it was a custom job or you saw his work and you liked it? What does the cover art of "Vexamen" actually mean?
Artem was contacted and commissioned to create the artwork for ‘Vexamen’. As the time of commissioning and the time of completion were very far apart and without any intermediate concept sketches, there wasn’t room for negotiations once they were finished. As such there isn’t as much specific symbolism as I had intended but it is still very much an impressive work.
A better understanding of the cover will come after reading the lyrics of ‘Vexamen’.
Ok, that would be all from me, thank You for your trust in us and for this interview. Wish VERBERIS deepest insight into the well of darkness for more interesting inspirations and creativity, many thanks!
Thank you, these questions have been much appreciated!