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Hulder - Verses In Oath review

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Band: Hulder
Album: Verses In Oath
Release date: February 2024

01. An Elegy
02. Boughs Ablaze
03. Hearken The End
04. Verses In Oath
05. Lamentation
06. An Offering
07. Cast Into The Well Of Remembrance
08. Vessel Of Suffering
09. Enchanted Steel
10. Veil Of Penitence

Hulder returns to preach Verses In Oath of the most sinister black metal yet.

Hulder is a US black metal project that formed back in 2018, solely masterminded by Marliese Osborne (aka Hulder, The Inquisitor, or Marz Riesterer). Three years following Hulder's establishment came the full-length debut Godslastering: Hymns Of A Forlorn Peasantry, an evil, raw traditional black metal release of high-end quality. Now, three years following that rather impressive debut, Osborne unleashes Verses In Oath; how does this sophomore stack-up?

Well to start with, Verses In Oath has a 10-song tracklist running for a fairly standard 40 minutes, which is nothing out of the ordinary; however, the album turns out to be far from your typical black metal release. The debut may have been black metal in the traditional sense, but what we have here on this latest offering is something that offers more than standard blast-beating, tremolo picking, and raw production. But how exactly does it differ from the debut? 

The album begins with "An Elegy", a short nature-themed synth-based intro that's nothing out of the ordinary, but acts as an opening lead for the first main track, "Boughs Ablaze", a song that clearly sets the tone for what's to come. "Boughs Ablaze" begins with a strikingly melodic riff pattern that then gallops its way alongside hauntingly evil synth work, which is placed behind the instrumentation and gnarly blackened shrieks to great effect. Closing the song off is a soft fading outro in which an eerie acoustic guitar passage gently forms alongside the atmospheric synths. Now, one thing noticeable on this opening track is the heavy use of synths; this is an element that turns out to be a key feature for the entire duration of the album to come.

The following track, "Hearken The End", opts for a slightly more folkish approach, one that reminds me of early Satyricon, Burzum, and Taake, and is also the longest track here at over 7 minutes. Key features on this song include folkish occult-like chants, even more striking atmospheric synth passages, and a gentle building rhythm that eases its way in gently, before erupting into a blast-beating frenzy with ferociously paced tremolo riffs. By now, you'll notice that there are still many traditional black elements in place, but the modern production allows for a much easier listening experience: good news for listeners who aren't well accustomed to the raw edgy sound quality of old.

From here, the album continues its savage attack of furious blast beats, ferocious-to-hypnotizing tremolos, eerie synth work, and rapid bass lines, bar two short mid-album interludes. The first of these is "Lamentation", basically a minute-long distorted female choir, which is then followed by "An Offering", which features monk-like chanting echoing behind yet more sinisterly atmospheric synth work. From here, the album picks up from where it left off before the interludes arrived. As the record progresses, the synth work becomes all the more noticeable and remarkable, and even more so on the final two tracks, reminding me very much of Abigor, perhaps even Emperor, particularly in the final moments of the track "Enchanted Steel", and you can easily add Dimmu Borgir to that list of symphonic black influences.

Hulder has proven to be up there with the best of the many newly established modern black metal acts today, with Verses In Oath being a continuation of the debut's fine form. However, there are several pitfalls; just as with many modern day black metal releases, the main pitfall is the album's repetitive songwriting and structure. For those looking for an album of variation and complexity, you may be left feeling underwhelmed, but if it's an experience of unrelenting evilness that sends you as the listener into a hypnotic state of blackened misery that you're craving, then Hulder have conjured up some Verses here to suit your needs.

Rating breakdown
Performance: 7
Songwriting: 7
Originality: 6
Production: 8

Written on 12.02.2024 by Feel free to share your views.

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