The band, Bereavement, are one of many underground powerhouse black metal acts hailing from Australia that come across the listener as emotional, hostile, hypnotic, and traditionally black metal all at once and are extremely essential to experience for any level black metal fan. With Bereavement what stands out instantly is their use of distorted melody along the surface backed by simplistic drumming, which on it’s own doesn’t sound like much to get excited about but as any black metal fan knows it’s these sort of simplistic elements that make the atmospheres so profound and critical to the overall listening experience. It’s not unique, but at the same time it shouldn’t be because most black metal legends aren’t up to a certain point, there were definite linkages between them all as being rooted as “black metal” but yet they also had their own feel and that’s what Bereavement have. I mean, shit, on the surface these days it’s pretty difficult to define something solid and fresh without it really being so left field and experimental which even now has become a drone blanket term, but if you have the inclination to carve beneath layers without even consciously trying to then what I’m talking about is pretty apparent and I’m guessing most of you reading this have that ability.
From the beginning of the album with “Black Sun, Blood Moon” the band really does perform a notable balancing act between juggling subtle synth/symphonic elements, tremolo leads, shredding treble loaded riffs, and blast beats with melody, rhythm variation, and an ancient feel that harkens back to classic second wave black metal greatness without any pretense. In fact several of the first songs even begin with that traditional shotgun take-off sort of intro consisting of a quick tremolo picked power chord riff followed closely by the raging vocal swoop of “whhhhhhooooooooaaaaaaahhhhhhhh” before the drums begin to blast away. This is classic black metal 101, and less cult then what has become the norm over the last few bursts of popularity for the style, but is without a doubt a staple of solid well-developed black metal and is heard in just about every black metal flagship album from early Emperor, Darkthtrone, Immortal, Dissection, Abigor… and many many others and is so fucking encompassing when used as it is here that it’s that iconic and powerful. I honestly challenge anyone out there to listen to “Dimension Eclipse” and not be completely awed with nostalgia and genuine respect, as well as avoiding being frozen over by the heroic agonizing splendor of “Forever Lost”.
Honestly, I’m at a standstill here because there’s nothing to really critique on Verses of Decay, it’s just a flavorful brew of every great defining black metal album that we own and repeatedly succumb to with every passing year, and it’s ironically refreshing to hear the ways of old summon the dawn in a new age. So regardless of where you stand on black metal and your preferences within the style you’ll be pretty fucking satisfied with Bereavement. If it weren’t recent and I’d have known that I’d even be open to assumptions that it’s a relic from the 90’s, it’s just that iconic and still vibrant amidst today’s plateau of sounds that it stirs both the soul and the mind. From start to finish this album hits hard, swiftly, and will evoke more than just your pulse to climb, through ancient souls and mysticism like a fog hovering over jagged mountains across a barren field. The old European does still reside within us, as does his/her: pride, rage, passion, and sorrow, which are further passed on through the resonating voice of Bereavement. I’m not entirely sure of when this re-release is set to take place officially but it’ll be fairly soon, but I’m also given to understand that the band is already broken-up as well and this is their first full-length which sucks because I think bands like Bereavement are an essential to keep the cryptic flame burning.
The actual release was sent to me for review courtesy of Darker Than Black but is actually released on Asgard Musik, which is exclusively distributed through the DTB webstore Merchant of Death. I recently ordered from this shop/distro and not nly did the items ship and arrive promptly from Germany, they also were registered and tracked so there were no fuck ups and it was damn cheap to do which is great because many of these albums are exclusive to certain international areas and rarely make it to U.S. distros unless there’s some sort of trade involved. I’ve uploaded a few tracks from this incredible modern BM gem below along with links for MoD and the band themselves.