Verge is a black metal band that has been around since 2004 and their new album, The Process of Self-Becoming, is their third full-length album so far. This release marks the first time I have heard of the band or heard their music.
When utilizing fast tempos, they utilize a circa 90s second wave black metal influenced style. Mostly, the band likes to create atmosphere with rung notes and slower tempos. The band does periodically use blast sections to keep the music flowing in a way that is comparable to river rapids leading to steep waterfalls. The faster the flow of music, the greater the emotional equivalent of despair makes itself manifest when the music crashes and the rung notes take over.
The Process of Self-Becoming sounds like a more personal foray into darker themes for the band, where vague concepts like failure and disillusionment make their way into the musical themes like murky sludge moving into clear moving water. The music sometimes provides counterpoint to the lyrics, and the use of clean vocals to express some of said lyrics in some crucial sections also adds to an impression of helplessness and loss. The music somewhat hints at a deterioration of self as a means of becoming what in essence is an existence fraught with despair and degradation. It isn’t a celebration that ends proceedings at the close of the album. Instead, the band pieces together the bits and pieces of an individual who has fallen apart and can only be put together as a disjointed whole, like a collage of pictures that communicates a distinct impression when combined into one piece.
The solos also remind me of depressive black metal stalwarts Shining’s approach to blues-influenced lead guitar. These solos often help set the mood. Often, these solos are welcome additions to the band’s repertoire here, and a more accessible and predictable song structure will help frame these solos so they have a distinct place. It can occur to listeners that a solo is on the verge of communicating incalculable depression if they expect a solo to come in a juncture of the song that is fitting. The solos should inspire some air guitar from fans who like lead sections coming in often, and it is an encouraging sign that more bands are looking to add creative lead guitar to black metal song structure more often these days.
It is especially effective for depressive black metal bands to utilize wailing blues-influenced lead sections following the clean vocal passages to provide dynamics. For this very interesting style of the band, Verge, I will look forward to more albums from them.
Verge is a good band, and The Process of Self-Becoming is an admirable attempt at the musical expression of subject matter that is difficult to put into words with the use of words alone. However, with the solos and the clean vocals adding to the minor chord transitions and rung notes, the band expresses these themes in a way that proves quite effective. Black metal fans might not hail Verge and this album as essential, but they will want to hear this album and add it to their collections. To close, I would like to point out that I love some of the elements Verge uses here. I’d like it if the band can improve song structure and songwriting dynamics so the different elements don’t just flow unpredictably, but instead, like bands who use powerful structure and dynamics, hone the different segments so they don’t just evolve in form but instead allow the reader to experience each section distinctively, letting a riff repeat before moving on to the next section, and the next, and so on. If Verge’s music becomes more accessible in this way, the band will likely release a breakthrough effort, and this will also appeal to many fans of other styles of metal. I am curious as to what the band plans to do next. In the meantime, I recommend The Process of Self-Becoming to intelligent metal fans. I will want to re-trace the band’s history to include prior releases. Verge may be on the verge of becoming something special.