Death metal has an over-saturation problem. Everywhere you look, the same kind of grimy, lo-fi, blackened death metal is being made. It’s not even that the music being made is bad; there are fantastic bands operating in this kind of death metal today. But one gets tired, not to say fatigued, by seeing the same kind of cover art and hearing the same kind of sound, over and over again, unless one is a superfan of the genre. Which I am not. And so, I approached the new VoidCeremony with great trepidation; it was billed as blackened death and, while the cover art didn’t quite fit the trope, I was expecting the same sort of vibe. But instead, what I got was vibrant, technical, and heavy as all hell death metal that seemed to blend that sort of OSDM throwback with a fierce edge that calls to mind the Canadian tech scene.
From the very first notes of “Desiccated Whisper”, you can tell that something is different here. The vocals are cavernous, sure, and those drums as massive as you can get but that bass is so loud! And not only is it loud, it’s technical too, drawing spirals around the main lines of the track. That’s where the Canadian tech comparison comes from; the bass reminds us of acts like First Fragment or Beyond Creation. And while the composition don’t skew as wildly progressive/neo-classical as in those bands, they do take you for a ride and a half. The main line stops, starts, accelerates, and decelerates at odd times, a lurching and macabre dance leading you through the track’s bewildering sounds.
Despite the fact that things get even wilder (I mean, listen to two minutes and forty seconds; that bass belongs on Watchtower more than it does on death metal!) the weight which anchors of all of this is the blackened death underpinnings of the sound. Once you get past the wild instrumentation, you also find a core of aggression that is incredibly ineffective. The vocals are not just cavernous; they are cosmically abrasive, churning forth from a dark pit of rage. The guitar tones are perfect, dual and triple tracks competing for your attention, buzz-sawing across the middle and the bottom of the mix. In their articulation and sheer propensity for endless riffs, the guitar perhaps remind us of mid-era Death, their progressive nature amplified by their complexity to create the overwhelming sensation that is so iconically death metal.
The cherry on top of this blood-drenched cake is that VoidCeremony are also economic. No track on this album wastes any time on frivolous expressions; even the drum solo at the end of “Sacrosanct Delusions” feels essential to the track’s wild vibe. The album itself is also short, clocking in at just over thirty minutes. This gives it an immediate, urgent vibe, which serves to both uplift the aggression into new heights and also make sure that the experimentation doesn’t feel drawn out or excessive. The end result is a sort of conundrum: on one hand, you can listen to this album when you just want to be kicked in the face by molten-hot death metal. But on the other, there is plenty here to dig into, with the progressive and technical flourishes which VoidCeremony employ promising hours of intense listening. My final advice I guess is to just give in and let it wash over you; its duality will find you in the end.
VoidCeremony’s Entropic Reflections Continuum: Dimensional Unravel releases on June 26th via the almighty 20 Buck Spin. You can pre-order it via the Bandcamp link above.