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Verzauber – Frankincense & Vitriol

verzauber – frankincense & vitriol


Although the band name might suggest something else (Verzauber meaning ‘Bewitch’ in English), this is a one-man Black Metal act from Cork, Ireland. With its debut album ‘Frankincense & Vitriol’ the anonymous person who goes under the name of P. presents this monumental piece of domestic work, clocking at a wh00ping 80 minutes. Since the information about this new project is rather scarce, or non-existent even, we’d better just dive into the realms of frankincense and vitriol.

Yes, but what the hell is that even? Frankincense is some sort of fragrant substance that is extracted from a tree and is also called boswellia oil, special powers are attributed to it (which, incidentally, cannot be proven) and is therefore often called “king of oils”. Vitriol, on the other hand, is a collective name for various sulfates, but in the (medieval) vernacular it is equivalent to sulfuric acid. Both are ingredients for alchemists and magicians, as we see on the beautiful cover art composed by Mitchell Nolte (Vampire, Denouncement Pyre, Dødsengel a.o.).

At least, with this magnificent artwork and the title as a bit of a divining rod, we can now start with the music. And that is where it gets interesting. Those 80 minutes are brimming with creativity, which is often the case with one-man bands. With no-one to hold you back or keep you on certain tracks, it the imagination and wild creativity of the only musician involved that gets free rein. This results in a sort of Black Metal that is not all that easy to pin down into a certain subgenre, yet the big denominator is Atmospheric Black Metal. Yet, not quite in the most conservative of ways. On the very contrary.

While Atmospheric Black Metal might be considered as the main ingredient of the musical blend that represents ‘Frankincense & Vitriol’, there are elements of Raw Black Metal as well as pieces of Dungeon Synth and general kaleidoscopic diversification. On top of some rather standard Black Metal drums and vocals, there are samples from (unidentified) movies or documentaries as well as a wide range of exotic instruments. And if that weren’t enough already, it is blended in very unorthodox ways, making the album sound rather quirky at first glance. It does take a bit of perseverance to full wrap your head around all various twists and turns, the contrarian riffs and overall jawdropping musical wizardry. And the most remarkable is that it doesn’t sound overly technical or complex, it is the unconventional song structures and the unusual sound that makes ‘Frankincense & Vitriol’ unique and impressively eccentric.

Of course, 80 minutes is quite lengthy and it demands a whole lot of the listener, but I guess it is safe to say that ‘Frankincense & Vitriol’ is, in the end, a rewarding listen. An investment even. But I’m pretty sure cutting this work in half would have added to its effectiveness, not to mention people who don’t make it to the end of the album or even start it at all.


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