Hailing, yet entirely musically distant, from the warmth and bustle of San Francisco, California, one-man experimental black metal artist Verwüstung began the year with not only his best release yet, but some of the most achingly beautiful compositions the post-black metal/shoegaze genre has ever been graced by on 2013’s Tunnel Ghosts.
After several minutes of minimal keyboard ambience an acoustic guitar enters the stage, beginning the 25 minute aural trip that is “Camellias in Bloom” by constructing a musical landscape that recalls windswept fields, rainy windshields and utter solitude before being pummeled into the earth by waves of distorted guitars. As the tempo and aggression rises, the majesty of the song only evolves. Layers upon layers of reverberated guitar float atop throbbing blast beats, swirling in waves of simple guitar figures as the tension mounts before spiraling into a coda of what may very well sound like a star exploding and feedbacking into oblivion.
Despite clocking in at nearly a half an hour, every moment of the track is essential, unique and impassioned.
Although “Camellias in Bloom” is a stand-alone EP, Verwüstung graces us with three more tunes, including a chaotic rendition of indie folk artist Neutral Milk Hotel’s “Holland, 1945.”
Each track on Tunnel Ghosts offers something unique. From the cinematic opener to the contemplative post-rock interlude of “Dancing Souls” to the emotionally overdriven outcry of “No Haven,” Verwüstung has crafted a concise collection of songs that not only prove the wonderful vitality of today’s experimental black metal scene, but also further testify to Verwüstung’s passionate artistry.
Like the title suggests, Tunnel Ghosts is an emotional journey through a darkened area of the mind, wherein the listener encounters the ghosts of the past and those yet to come.
Whether the listener chooses to remain fixated on the specters hovering about or anticipate the tunnel’s end, Verwüstung ‘s Tunnel Ghosts is a chilling, emotional soundtrack for introspection in the new year.