One thing I’ve always loved about black metal is the attention to atmosphere. In the early days, the purposefully under-produced efforts by Burzum put a big emphasis on creating a moody atmosphere; now Metamorphopsia, the latest release by Ukrainian black metal outfit Virvel Av Morkerhatet, seeks to create a truly malevolent and chaotic ambiance.
Metamorphopsia can really be summed up in three words: pure audio terror. The odd, atonal chord progressions remind me of Deathspell Omega, and give the songs a big boost in the “sounding evil as possible” department. There are plenty of blast-beats all over each and every song, but the ever-changing time signatures manage to keep listeners on their toes. “Theory Of Distress View,” for instance, starts off at a slow, lurching doom metal pace, with nightmarish vocals weaving in and out of the forefront of the mix. “Dissociative Disorder” has a similar vibe, though the guitars are played much faster. Virvel Av Morkerhatet focus on creating atmosphere, but manage to have enough crunch in the guitar to remind you that black metal is supposed to be a part of HEAVY metal. This is something that often gets lost on some of the other speed demons of the genre.
The production on Metamorphopsia is a fantastic mix of new and old-school black metal styles. While there is a lot of reverb, giving the music an otherworldly quality, each instrument can also be heard without difficulty. Virvel Av Morkerhatet have truly struck the balance between brutal and moody, and manage to do so without the heavy use of keyboards or symphonic elements.
If your knowledge of the Ukrainian black metal scene goes no further than Drudkh (excellent as they are) do yourself a favor and check out this release. I’m sure you’ll be pleasantly surprised.