The press release for Verismo’s debut album, City of Kings, says that the band “is a return to the good old days of thrash, when musicians knew their instruments … and vocals were both intense and intelligible.” There’s no doubt about the veracity of that statement. This is vintage thrash. It’s like hearing the echoes of early Metallica and Megadeth, with touches of Exodus, Testament, and the like. They have a sci-fi feel to them at times, like old Voivod. Yeah, this stuff makes you throw your hands in the air and bang your head.
All the songs start off intense, like the sound of swords ringing as they are pulled from their sheaths, preparing you for sonic battle. This is raw and industrial metal played with celerity by experienced shredders. Every song is a joy to experience for old metalheads.
The songs take on many subjects: some are political statements, some discuss substance addiction, there’s even an environmental message. The environmental song, “The Lorax” – based on a Dr. Suess book – is easily the most interesting on the album. One outstanding aspect of the song is the odd time signature. It’s just so … off that it's impossible not to listen to over and over. It shows the bands virtuosity. This song has the most sci-fi feel to it, though it carries a message very applicable to our times. And, like Dr. Suess himself, it’s nicely sarcastic. The title track, “City of Kings,” is duly ominous and powerful. It shows off the band's cynicism, too.. It also is a good motto for Verismo: "Imitate all you like, can't be faked, plagiarized."
Lyrically, they are much like Metallica and the other early thrashers - straightforward; there’s no mistaking what the songs are about. There is no mistaking the cynical sarcasm contained in them. Singer Stephan Laboccetta growls out these lyrics brutally as the guitars support the powerful themes.
Verismo means “realism” and they have succeeded in capturing the real sound of the early 80s thrash. For this reviewer that music is the true metal and its great to hear a band like Verismo reproducing that sound. There’s a sublime purity to the thrash that they perpetuate. No complexities, no tricks, no gimmicks; just straight forward, straight up metal.
Like a shot of your favorite tequila, this debut album is one you don’t want to miss. City of Kings is a sapid metal experience, sure to bring back some good memories.