With recent black metal releases either making you want to march off into battle (Winterfylleth) or spend an evening viciously murdering crackheads in an urban underpass (Anaal Nathrakh), it’s refreshing when an album comes along that’s perfect for merely slumping back in your chair and drifting off into the void. Dutch trio Laster are the architects of said proposed lazy endeavour but don’t be fooled into thinking that their debut album De Verste Verte Is Hier (Dunkelheit) is a snooze-fest, for it contains a plethora of fascinating motifs that demonstrates once again that atmosphere matters more than mindless aggression.
Nestling somewhere on the outer-reaches of the black metal spectrum where drone, ambient and Shoegaze converge for an exclusively morbid and dream-like tea party, the 45 minutes of De Verste Verte Is Hier is akin to wandering through a ruined, expressionist landscape of abandoned factories, mist-shrouded plains and decaying, haunted cathedrals. The riffing veers between light speed ferocity that calls to mind Krallice if they were given a heavy dose of lithium to more mid-paced plodding that references the darkest lights of the USBM depressive scene, such as the suicide obsessed Xasthur.
There are enough noticeable differences between songs to ensure that the same ideas aren’t merely recycled with a vaguely different coat of paint, such as the horribly surreal choir-and-shrieking section that appears in ‘Tot de tocht ons verlicht’ and the devastatingly bleak piano passage in ‘Ik – mijn masker’. But the real rug-pull moment comes in the arse-shakingly danceable post-punk of the title track, which is like being in a nightclub with Cenobites for bouncers.
All in all, a thoroughly impressive debut from a trio of talented multi-instrumentalists who know how to paint grim pictures with enough beauty mixed in to warrant many a further inspection.