Forming in only 2019, New York City based Viserion have unleashed their debut album featuring their own take on extreme metal citing such influences as Mayhem, Darkthrone and Behemoth. Despite having such clear influences and a genre where you can often fall into a well of familiarity, Viserion have managed to pull out a bit of originality from the dark void we all know and love. So let us take a dive into what they have to offer with ‘Natural Selection’.
Immediately the production style and tone springs out as a defining play in Viserion’s creative strategy. Very much like the album cover depicts, it is predatory, primal and raw but still manages to keep from becoming too old school in the sense of throwing production out the window to get that distant, distorted sound found on early Darkthrone or Burzum records. Certainly not a production value found through similar contemporaries and becomes one of the stand out features of ‘Natural Selection’.
Viserion makes use of all three members for the vocals which adds a great deal of depth and character to the music. On tracks ‘Tortured Soul’ and ‘Vaporized’ for example, we hear a blending of the main vocals accompanied by a much deeper growl and particularly on the latter track, a “call and response” effect is used and adds to the feral nature and brutality that the band can achieve. Another technique firmly under Viserion’s control is their use of dynamics and the title track ‘Natural Selection’ is a great example of this. Throughout this track we hear multiple distinct sections that still blend together structurally, but utilise some eclectic genre techniques that make it one of the more unique tracks. In the beginning there is a subtle doom vibe (think more like newer Darkthrone) which transitions into an atmospheric black metal section that dances around clean guitar melodies and distant screams. From that point, it jumps to a brilliantly heavy part partnered again with those powerful deep growls. Overall, a real highlight for the album and is a testament to genre blending and structural composition done right.
‘The Wraith’ is the first single off of the record and comes as a bit of a surprise, because as guest vocalist on this track is famed melodic delta metal vocalist Trevor Strnad of The Black Dahlia Murder. It is quite rare to see such an established vocalist guesting for a debut full-length, but it should be a tell-tale sign of the band’s quality at such an early stage. This track is easily one of the more pummelling of the lot and will certainly please any fans of death metal. Following in the same vein, ‘Abandoned’ is another heavy highlight but more in line with their Behemoth influence as we get some minor blast beats chucked in and towards the end, we are met with a vast and transcendent outro.
Viserion have managed to achieve something spectacular on a debut record with seamless integration of genre techniques, structural composition and an overall visceral tonality and atmosphere. ‘Natural Selection’ is definitely a record to check out if you’re into any variant of extreme metal as I’m sure that most, if not all tracks will float your boat. Great things from a debut can hopefully mean great things for the future, keep an eye out for Viserion, they are on the rise!
Highlights: ‘Natural Selection’ – ‘The Wraith’ – ‘Vaporized’
Album Released: 13/08/2021 released independently. Order here.