Review: Virvel Av Morkerhatet – 'Metamorphopsia'

Five years is a long time in music. Entire careers can be built and destroyed. Icons raised, and razed. Metallica can think about maybe recording some new music. Maybe. Back in 2010 Virvel Av Morkerhatet released their debut ‘Forsaken Hate Sickness’, a belligerent slab of raucous black metal, primitive hate bleeding from its raw grooves. However outside of their native Ukraine, the band remained largely unknown.

So half a decade on, and the band – vocalist Howler (who also adds keyboards and ‘effects’), bass player Graakh and session drummer and guitarist Astaroth Merc – have returned with their sophomore release ‘Metamorphosis’, and what a difference those five years have made…

The aggression and anger that defined their debut remain; this is still very much a black metal record, but much like the musical leap Slayer made from ‘Show No Mercy’ to ‘Hell Awaits’, Virvel Av Morkerhatet have taken their sound to a new level; brave, ambitious, thrilling, original, and ultimately rewarding.


Instrumental opener ‘Into Saltation’ defines the mood of the album, with its sinister backwards masking, insidious electronic samples, and chiming chords, before ‘Weapon Only To Be Found In The Mind Of Man’ kicks things off properly; Howler snarls and growls over a blur of brilliant black metal, featuring some incredible drumming and hook-laden riffs. The influence of bands like Mayhem and Darkthrone are obvious, but there are elements of more diverse artists such as Thorns and Arcturus, and going back further, extreme pioneers such as King Crimson; indeed the album has a swirling, hypnotic, almost jazzy vibe which remains throughout, giving it a conceptual feel. Third track ‘Reflexive Transfer Of Aether Through City Lights’ comes spiralling out of the speakers like a heavier, gnarlier, filthier Voi-Vod, taking the listener on a dizzying journey, not into outer space, but inner space; imagine being turned inside out again, and again…

‘Theory Of Distress View’, like so many of the tracks on ‘Metamorphopsia’ is a mini space-opera; a subtle and inventive intro leads into a garage-y psychedelic passage before exploding into hyperdrive; the final minute and a half is incredible, chaotic yet controlled, and brilliantly executed. ‘Metamorphopsia Diagnosis’ follows, another avant-garde slice of black metal; think Deathspell Omega or Blut Aus Nord, but Virvel Av Morkerhatet have their own identity, and just when you think you’ve got them sussed, they throw another curveball, this time in the form of eerie samples and keyboards.

The punishing ‘Dissociative Disorder’ maintains the album’s high standards, laced with more memorable guitar runs over pounding rhythms. This, the shortest track on the album, at just over five minutes, acts as a pre-cursor for the longest and most ambitious track: ‘Stupefying Taste Of Henbane. Coma Ritual’. Almost seven minutes of progressive carnage. If there is an elevator that takes you down through the seven strata of Hell, then this is the tune that’ll be playing therein. Virvel Av Morkerhatet really turn the screw here, dismantling your inner peace and replacing it with an endless musical nightmare.

‘Personification Of Adventurer. Overdose’ begins with the hideous sound of a big, fat fly, buzzing from one ear to the next, after which a trippy guitar line leads us deeper into our miserable selves. The carnage continues on ‘Sore Hate Of Human Scum’ which ends with the famous Robert Oppenheimer quote paraphrasing the sacred Hindu text Bhagavad Gita; “I am become Death, destroyer of worlds’.

Heavy stuff indeed. After such intensity, the album ends as it began, with an instrumental track, the intensely strange ‘Withdrawal’, the perfect outro to such a weird and wonderful listening experience. Virvel Av Morkerhatet have produced a challenging, cohesive, and musically intelligent album, which deserves a broader audience. Indeed, it was worth the wait.

Review: Rivethead

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