Laster - De verste verte is hier [Dunkelheit Produktionen - 2014]I didn’t catch Laster’s demo when it was released back in 2012, so the band’s first full-length is my first glimpse at what this Netherlands based project has to offer. De verste verte is hier was released in November on CD, tape, and vinyl, as well as being available for “pay what you want” on Bandcamp. I’ve spent the past few days giving this some play time and while it’s not necessarily an album of the year contender, it’s a damn fine piece of atmospheric black metal.
De verste verte is hier is made up of three main tracks, each lasting over ten minutes, as well as a short (well, by atmospheric black metal standards, at least) six minute closer. The three main tracks do a really good job of showcasing what this Dutch project is all about – building immense, desolate soundscapes. Most impressive is the songwriting – these guys know when to be dynamic and when to be repetitive, and really have a knack for building up impressive climaxes. Most of the songs are built up with swirling riffs and howling, desperate shrieks but there are also moments of pure primal fury that keep the album from becoming untethered and cast adrift into the maelstrom. Some of the effect is lessened by the production – it feels like everything is happening in the other room – but it still works. The main focus is on the emotive guitars, which convey a variety of tones ranging from despair and emptiness to hatred to hope. Calling Laster a depressive black metal band wouldn’t be inaccurate, but much more like the Woods of Desolation style depressive than Xasthur or Deep-pression, with a more mature and nuanced approach. My personal favorite of the tracks is “Ik - mijn masker,” the most traditionally minded track, but it also features a great section of minimalistic piano at the end. I’d really like to see Laster play around with this some more in the future. Sadly, besides a couple seconds of organs on “Tot de tocht ons verlicht” they refrain from this type of experimentation.
But they do experiment in another way. “De verste verte is hier” doesn’t follow the path set out by the previous three tracks at all. Instead of an expansive, ten minute black metal epic we are treated with a gloomy post-punk tune with muted, softly sung vocals and an upbeat pace. I really like this track but it feels out of place thrown at the end of the album like this. I’m not really sure how the band could make the two styles mesh completely, but we’ll see what they come up with on later material.
I wasn’t sure what to expect from this release but I was pleasantly surprised with what I found. De verste verte is hier is a very mature first album. Great songwriting keeps you hooked for the whole runtime and little pieces of brilliance make the journey worthwhile. Like I said earlier, it’s not going to top my year’s best list, but it’s easy to drop out for an hour and give the album a listen. Do yourself a favor and check it out. Tyler L.