Hulder
Verses In Oath

Although it feels like it’s been a long time since Hulder released her debut, it’s been about 3 years. In the meantime, she’s had several short releases, toured, and has been working almost non-stop. This year, she’s releasing her new album Verses in Oath, as well as headlining the upcoming Decibel Tour with several other killer bands. In other words, there’s nothing to… Hulder… back.

I told myself I wasn’t going to make a lame joke using the band name this time, but I couldn’t help it. Anyway, what you need to know is that Verses in Oath is a worthy follow-up to Godslastering, and perhaps a better album overall. The debut, while excellent, and I even stated that in a review on this site, felt at times that it suffered (oh so slightly) from a creator with a lot of ideas that felt disjointed. However, Verses in Oath is a confident stride forward.

Take for example the first track after the intro, “Boughs Ablaze.” While there are elements of what I call the Marduk stomp, it’s overall a full-speed-ahead, old-school black metal track, with the melodic sensibilities of Nordland-era Bathory. Synths, which are relegated to the background, have a small presence staring halfway through, as well as some clean-picked guitars close to the end.

This isn’t one of those pretentious black metal albums that the band or label calls something ridiculous, such as “ecstatic black metal,” but a bona fide banger. No further proof is necessary if you listen to the title track, which is about as straightforward as it gets. The hoarse, gruff, lower vocals may lend themselves to death metal upon first listen, but it’s clear they fit well. There are no choral vocals. Save those for the following two interludes. A head-scratcher, but it doesn’t slow the momentum.

“Vessel of Suffering” is one of my favorite tracks because it’s still brutal, sounding much like early Dimmu Borgir and the symphonic black metal movement (my second favorite movement). They’re relegated to the background, and certainly not as bombastic as the later and current genre stalwarts, while still having an impact.

Overall, this is a well-crafted, brutal black metal album. If you have pre-conceived notions, toss them into a ceiling fan, pick up the chunks, then go fuck yourself with them. All of them. Individually. Whether you like it or not, black metal is not only made up of bands who live in the forests or sheds. It’s comprised of excellent musicians and visionaries with a focus and goals of world domination. I’m certainly not saying this album is going to take over the world, but the hype train is real, you should believe all the reviews and Verses in Oath assuredly will appear on many 2024 lists.

 

[Visit the band's website]
Written by J Mays
February 12th, 2024

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