Paraguay isn’t necessarily somewhere you would go looking for death metal. Nevertheless, Indian record label, Transcending Obscurity—the veritable champion of extreme metal in developing countries—has found a gem. Verthebral play devastating old school death metal. Their new record, Abysmal Decay is a great display for the genre. Rather than emulating many of their peers in Entombed worship, Verthebral pull from a more of Morbid Angel or even Deicide-inspired palate. Angular riffs collide with devastating chugs across their album. The band’s flawless execution remains thrilling, no matter what type of death metal you happen to love. This is a perfect reminder of what the genre is all about.
There is a sense of urgency communicated in songs like "Ancient Legion" that speaks to the band’s unique vision. When swaths of notes overwhelm the listener on a track like "Temple Of Hate," it feels more like an extension of what the band is about than anything else. Throughout the record, the band impresses with tasteful solos. One of the highlights is the initial slowed down swirl found in the title track which is immediately counterbalanced by some Kerry King-esque histrionics. It’s the icing on the cake for a record that continues to tastefully impress with its morbid elegance.
This all being said, Abysmal Decay isn’t an especially original album. Nothing here seems to be too far outside the box. Some of the songwriting is a bit hackneyed and there are moments of riff salad. ‘Isolation Room’ is a particularly guilty party. While yes, it’s cool that the band have all these ideas, a little bit more clarity in the songwriting would definitely be helpful in making Abysmal Decay a more cohesive listen. It’s hard not to appreciate the tropes presented. After all, most of us fell in love with death metal for a reason. Verthebral understand that and continue to deliver the sort of ideas fans are looking for.
It would be remiss to wrap up this review without taking a moment to talk about the production. The guitar tone in particular is spot on. Yes, it is very much rooted in Florida death metal, but there’s a reason so many bands used that tone. The barked vocals are also wonderfully executed. They sit nicely in the mix, a struggle many bands fail to overcome. Stellar rhythm section aside, how many bands are genuinely able to put together solos that make sense in the context of their music? The guitar solo often feels like a lost art in 2019. Even as the year ends, Verthebral remind us that there are still bands who want to shred.
Abysmal Decay is a fun listen through and through. It builds on classic ideas and shows the band have a deep understanding of Florida death metal. The band makes it easy to lose yourself neverending chugs and the monolithic guitar tone is nicely executed. Abysmal Decay is not necessarily a world breaker, but it is an album that classic death metal fans should dig. This may be the start of something grand emerging from Paraguay. Verthebral have the talent to keep growing, and watching their manic sonic punishment develop will be a rare treat.