Sweden’s Perverticon have blessed us with a sophomore full-length, titled Wounds of Divinity. Judging off the title alone, the release includes a healthy does of blasphemous subject matter which certainly isn’t for the faint hearted. Well, you’ll probably make it to the end of this journey if you’re not a twentieth century peasant.
In terms of output within the world of extreme music, we’ve seen frequent participation from Scandinavia recently. Such isn’t all that surprising considering the area’s rich relationship with distortion and blast beats, but the citation is worthy enough of note due to the amount of solid modern bands calling the area home. While death metal may be the region’s flavour of choice, with bands like Undergang, Taphos, and Hyperdontia reigning supreme as of late, Scandinavia is better known for its contributors within the black metal scene.
The most famous of which is of course Norway’s, with its flourishing black metal scene causing multiple press storms within the early ‘90s. Going further back, one of the earliest sonic proprietors of blasphemy came in the form of Celtic Frost, everyone’s favourite Swedish metal band.
Currently waving the country’s flag is Perverticon, a trio based in Gävle, a city located just North of Stockholm, the country’s capital. Thematically, the band incorporates themes of blasphemy, anti-Christianity, and counter-oriented imagery throughout their harsh music. With clever song titles like “Breath of Sulphur (Aura of Flies)” and “Holy Gifts from Skinless Hands,” the listener won’t find difficulty associating mental pictures to this release.
Right off that bat, I like the thought-provoking themes prevalent on the album cover. While holy beings emerging from a red sea is something one might expect from such an album, the pair of hands with slit wrists hovering above introduces an interesting concept. The blood pouring from sister incisions flows down into cupped hands, insinuating that worship is some sort of self-deprecating process that costs the worshipper more than its worth to give. I thought the image was interesting and raised an interesting discussion.
The atmosphere on Wounds of Divinity caters to those who don’t enjoy the low-fidelity production which has become stereotypically standard within the subgenre. The release thus serves more as an entry-level work as opposed to one of hostile sonic nature which would more likely be found within the darkest depths of Bandcamp. I’m not saying that those familiar with black metal wouldn’t necessarily enjoy this one, but it caters to those seeking a more melodic and straightforward style.
The album opens with “Thirsting for Ruin,” a relatively predictable number. While the track certainly serves its purpose as the opening song, it lacks a certain “wow factor” that music nerds are accustomed to on an initial spin. While people’s favourite songs have a tendency to be located within the back half of an album, most likely due to their desire to impress outsiders and not come off as a poser, the inevitable reality is that the first three or so songs are usually built as earworms to serve as the album’s most complete numbers. Unfortunately, I’m not quite getting these vibes with the first two tracks on Wounds of Divinity. “Thirsting for Ruin” is of interesting nature on paper, but falls flat on vinyl. Well, it didn’t quite miss the mark, it just doesn’t do anything to pull me into a second listen. The first half of the track endeavours on this introductory journey, focusing solely on instrumentation, while the vocals begin to make a presence within the song’s second portion. I enjoy the setup here, but I couldn’t really grasp onto anything of worthy note.
Luckily enough, “Cold Embrace of Sanctity” pulls the rear in this initial trio of tracks, and it somewhat makes up for the lackluster introduction. While the song holds strong within its primary portion, the layering and compositional execution on the track’s second half really raises the bar. The band chose to incorporate an audio sample into the number, which isn’t necessarily all that uncommon, however it is delightfully implemented. A male’s recorded speech is initially layered over underlying instrumentation, which introduces an interesting combination, but is not necessarily something I haven’t heard elsewhere. However, the sounds of a woman furiously delivering some sort of verbal request at high volume is injected into the mix, which eventually dissolves into a fit of screaming, all while the first male is delivering his speech. The section is splendid yet off-putting, as it jolts the listener due to its conflicting nature. Well done.
“The Cease of Absolution” follows, rising to prominence as another highlight of the album. In opposing fashion to the track prior, this number follows a more straightforward mission statement that is otherwise executed with perfection. The riffs, vocal inclusions, and general incorporation of elements here work splendidly in an ensemble. There’s nothing really all that tangible here, its just one of those gut things; take me for my word, I guess.
Unfortunately, the ever-present mediocrity unavoidably plagues the album. The above description of “Thirsting for Ruin” sets a fairly representative tone for the rest of the release, apart from the two numbers I praised, of course. There’s nothing really wrong with this album, but there’s not much interesting or noteworthy to clench on to. With that being said, a full-length cluttered with an orgy of elements all competing to gain your divided attention isn’t necessarily favourable either, but I just feel like Wounds of Divinity is forgettable. It is standard black metal with a few flairs here and there, but that’s pretty much it. The band clearly tried to inject some variation into the release with slower songs like “Breath of Sulphur (Aura of Flies),” but even the less uniform tracks suffer from an inherent mediocrity.
While tracks “Cold Embrace of Sanctity” and “The Cease of Absolution” triumph due to strong songwriting and unique incorporations of samples and the like, the other portions of this collection fall within the cracks. Even from a thematic standpoint, the themes of anti-Christianity fail to excite me (apart from some elements of the album cover), as they’ve been prevalent within the genre for a handful of decades now. Perhaps the release could be recommended to newcomers due to its straightforwardness and palatable qualities (or lack of unpalatable qualities), but I’d rather just recommend some of the classics as they’ve stood the test of time and offer good talking points within the community.