FROM the depth of Dante's hell - well the general Belfast area - Neamhni have been resurrected and are providing a storm of intense extreme blackened death on stages over the past several months. Can they translate this to a recording?
Given their development in the live arena harnessing that on to a three-track EP was a considerable challenge, given that this is a self-released production, and their chosen style.
However, it is a collection of tracks that packs a considerable punch, and stays away from the clichés that often devil the outré areas of extreme metal.
Across all the tracks there is a melding of black metal and death metal, but with a sensibility of that which went before the Norwegian and Floridian roots.
Opener 'Carmun' is a swift kick in face with a persistent riffing that tips a hat towards the likes of Immortal but is distinctly Neamnhi's own sound. There is enough within the track to show that there is nothing slavish about how the band are carving out a sound all of their own.
'Life Abandoned' has something nastily melodic within its attack: and that melody doesn't overpower or diminish the wall of sound within.
Indeed it is this balance that makes all the tracks on Vermin stand out. They are very aware that any release in the 'extreme' category can't be predictable; it must have the character of the band shining through.
This is evident on the stunning closer 'Entities Unknown'. Fury swung like a scythe and cutting like a scalpel. With a musical reference to traditional metal and enough snarl to frighten off the casual listener this is a track that encapsulates the ambition of Neamhni.
Sure, there are minor issues with the EP. The mix, occasionally, doesn't bring the best out from the sound. The lyrics are a little bit at times too steeped in others reference frames. However these are very minor quibbles.
What Vermin proves is that Neamhni are continuously emerging as a force to be reckoned with, a band screaming with potential, promise and worthy of taking this EP as a launching pad towards an album and more live excellence.
Review by Jonathan Traynor