Album: Headless – EP
The last thirty seconds of your life turn out to be nothing like what you would have thought. Rather than withering away at a ripe old age with friends and family surrounding you, you find yourself staring at your body—limbs limp, blood pooling around the stump that was once your neck. Completely unexpected and nearly painless, Verbera struck with precise, punishing intensity and jarring, complex heaviness. Their sophomore EP, Headless, is a lesson in atypical, demonic deathcore that defies the genre’s boring staples in favor of something new, mixing metallic and hardcore influences to bring fresh, meaty brutality to a table previously holding stale and stagnant standards. Combining thrashy riffing with dark, gloomy percussion without compromising frantic energy or intense technicality, Verbera have crafted a marvelous release that is sure to knock the listener’s block off.
Upon experiencing the absolutely lacerating experience that is Headless, two things are immediately apparent to the listener: the instrumentation complex and atypical of most bands that align themselves with deathcore, and the vocals are otherworldly. Instrumentally, Verbera are a towering monolith of precise architecture and timeless sturdiness—a figurative sphinx towering among anthills. Headless is founded on the percussive efforts of Bobby Gibbs, who beats firm, but oddly-timed patterns into the listener’s skull with fierce energy and alarming fervor. The introduction to “Transgressor,” for example, hits the listener like a sledge hammer to the side of the head, while the bizarre and almost-progressive fills and beats dotting the first minutes of “Let Die” are nothing short of breathtaking. Where Gibbs’ drumming oscillates between bold, basic hardcore roots and enchanting progressive technicality, guitarists Keiffer Becker and Jake McKinsey keep a constant, dark drive that drowns the listener in dissonance. Headless is packed with shiver-inducing raked harmonics, cranium-crushing chugs and brain-boiling riffs that leave no stone unturned in Verbera’s efforts to decapitate the listener. Especially when combined with the booming bass work of Connor Bacon. Bacon plods and plunks away, tethering Gibbs’ kick drum to the soaring, sinister heaviness of Becker and McKinsey’s fretwork, creating one smoothly functioning, furious deathcore machine. This machine masterfully combines raunchy grooves with simply meaty chugs to craft a truly unique instrumental dynamic.
Where Verbera’s instrumentation is far from the standard blast-and-chug fare that the listener might expect from a band labeling themselves as “deathcore,” the vocals wear the genre proudly on their sleeve, so to speak. Eric Glass is, to put it plainly, one of the most talented and diverse vocalists deathcore has seen to date, as there is practically no range, tone or style he cannot hit. “Over Nothing,” for example, features everything from raspy, screeching brees to guttural, intense bellows, including every style in between. “Headless” follows a similar tactic, spanning the entire range that Glass has so carefully mastered in order to add a diverse and immersive aspect to Headless that is second to none. The true mastery of Glass is not simply how diverse his vocal range is, but how consistent each style he displays is delivered. His gritty, fierce screams are as pitch-perfect as his harsh mids and low growls, each of them taking turns clawing gaping holes in the listener’s eardrums and shredding their sanity.
Between Glass’ glorious vocal performance and the remainder of Verbera’s voracious instrumental onslaught, Headless is practically impeccable. The best way to describe Verbera’s unique, insidious take on deathcore is this: imagine Bermuda’s penchant for bouncy, catchy grooves. Now sprinkle that with Traitors-esque heaviness and serve it on a plate of Oceano-esque songwriting ability and flow—all with a generous helping of Salt the Wound-styled vocals. Headless is an album that combines the infamous “old school” vocal styles of early 2000’s deathcore with the newfangled hotness of groovy, bouncy and catchy musicianship that has made deathcore an infinitely more accessible and interesting style of music. Hardly is there a blast-beat or boring tremolo picked degenerating riff to be found on Verbera’s EP—instead there are crafty, gnashing grooves and prolapse-inducing breakdowns that are the truest example of a band functioning in perfect unison, combining across-the-board influences to generate a sound that is completely their own.
Twenty-one…twenty-two…with only seconds of vision left before the curtains are drawn on your life for good, you are graced with one fleeting, final thought: Headless. Deathcore at its most modern, unique and lethal, Verbera’s latest offering is truly a testament to legitimately intriguing and immersive music that fans of anything heavy will find solace in.
For Fans Of: Oceano, Beacons, Salt the Wound, InVoker, Rosewood, Bermuda (USA/AUS)
By: Connor Welsh