It’s hard to describe exactly how one-man British project Vessel of Iniquity operates without devolving into the realm of unmoored hyperbole. Xenoglossy Productions calls it “terror noise-metal aimed at disintegrating one’s being and entire existence through the sheer force of hell in audial form.” I would be inclined to agree, and even note that this is somewhat independent of the music’s quality: the style at hand – the indiscernible vocals, the enormous amounts of reverb on the guitars -invokes the same type of cosmic largess as Portal or Mesarthim, but combines this with some intensely claustrophobic war metal rhythms and hyper-speed blast beats a la Antideluvian and Teitanblood to create something that also feels personal, intense, in-your-face. When Vessel of Iniquity is present, it intends to drown out any other phenomena. It is loud, crushing, stark.
The most recognizable sonic companion to Vessel of Iniquity would almost certainly be Infernal Coil. Both invoke vast, empty chasms, entire worlds devoid of life. (Again, it is hard not to devolve into hyperbole.) The two groups do not necessarily occupy the same space thematically – Infernal Coil feels far more like some apocalyptic vision of our own world than Vessel’s ritualistic summoning of something beyond – but both use the same sounds to achieve their goals. The paintings may be different, but the brushes are the same.
At its core, though, Void of Infinite Horror lives and dies in how it is produced. The creeping phalanges of searing-hot white noise around the periphery of the guitars, the vocals situated at the bottom of an impossibly deep chasm, and the extremely loud drums that sit front in the mix create a sound that feels almost like a stark inverse of traditional extreme metal. As soon as you hit play on that opener, “Invocation of the Heart Girt with a Serpent,” any external phenomena instantly shies away, leaving you face-to-face with the impossibly heavy existence of Vessel of Iniquity, and that alone.
This is not a sound everyone can (or should) appreciate. Listening to Void of Infinite Horror means confronting something of a monolith with absolutely zero idea how to proceed other than straight ahead. I’m hesitant to even say that the album opens up on repeated listens, because really, it doesn’t: there is not a lot of complexity to what Vessel of Iniquity does, just so much full-on intensity that a full listening session of this 25-minute LP leaves one with the same feeling as sticking their face in front of an open furnace for roughly the same amount of time. It is overwhelmingly dark, too. Certainly, this can’t be held against the creation at hand, since Void is exactly what it wants to be, but this is not a record with more than a niche appeal. It is not something you recommend to your friends. It is what you listen to, at home, isolated, when there is nothing that could even need a sliver of your attention other than this.
Be that as it may, though, what is here is excellent for those of us in the small crowd looking for where the most cacophonous and aggressive black metal meets the most threatening and solitary wall noise. The sound Vessel of Iniquity conjures is certainly intense, but not in a “metal” manner. In a strange, otherworldly, liturgical sense: Void of Infinite Horror is a set of ritual invocations to something great and beyond our comprehension and terrifyingly, lucidly powerful.
Void of Infinite Horror is out today, courtesy of Sentient Ruin Laboratories in the US and Xenoglossy Productions in the EU. Please give it a spin if you like things dreary, cosmic, and harsh.