Tome of the Unreplenished - Cosmoprism: The Theurgy - Act 1I first listened to Cosmoprism: The Theurgy – Act 1 just after midnight. As I snuggled into my unicorn shaped pillow, I allowed the ambient nightmare that Tome of the Unreplenished had created into my mind. I let it capture my imagination and I was rewarded with a listening experience that, honestly, seemed to transport me into another world. Tome’s previous full-length Innerstanding was a very good atmospheric black metal album so I had high hopes for this. Little did I know that, like Wolves in the Throne Room with Celestite, Tome sought to explore their passion for drone and ambient by releasing a 31-minute mini-album that investigates — as is written — the “antipodes of the universe and its relation to the human condition.”

I listened to it again the next night, this time trying to pick out more features, trying to delve beneath the textured chaos for subtleties that I may have missed on a first listen. However, the second listen was less immersive and certain stretches began to grate both on my patience and on my ear-drums. Since then, after listening to the album in multiple other settings, Cosmoprism has become more and more of a chore to get through. After my initial listen, I felt that I had gleaned all I could from the album. I soldiered on, however, and gave it chance after chance.

Cosmoprism starts with crackling dissonance and ends with crackling dissonance. Crackling dissonance also makes up most of the in-between parts too. Off-kilter and out-of-tune sounds accompany this demented crackle, together forming a largely incoherent beast that sounds too much like a gaggle of sentient kitchen appliances on the attack rather than music with a DR score of 11. Opener “Exileosis” begins subdued: lonely single-stringed sitar or banjo sounds echo disharmoniously alongside a solemn drum beat and a wall of crackling ambiance. The song transitions into unrulier, though still slow, territories as distorted vocals wash through the mix and grating industrial sounds screech and crank, layer on layer, without much substance. The result is sloppy and ineffective rather than creepy and oppressive.

The eight-minutes of “Dead Body of God” continues the motif of auditory battery as high-pitched wailing, incomprehensible vocals, and sharp incessant noise add nowt but a headache to my listening experience. It’s not until mid-way through the song when the steady clang of drums, emerging deep from the undergrowth, brings a more controlled and satisfying feeling to the droning confusion. The industrial clang of the drums, like pistons and machinery blasting at top speed, ride beneath swarming high-pitched hysteria; for the first time, a sense of unsettling creepiness emerges from the instability. With such a high dynamic range score, you’d expect impressive clarity and depth, but both are prevented from being reached due to weak instrumentation and awkward ‘song’ construction. Discovering clarity is like trying to pick a piece of hay from a stack of needles: painful.

The final two tracks are the strongest, offering a more dynamic and interesting sound, but in no way do they abandon the fetters of musical convention (as stated by the label). Rather, they sound like very good Darkspace or Sunn O))) b-sides. “Black Hole Resident” is a dramatic song that grasped me straight away with its throbbing spacey sounds, semi-conventional riffs, and muttered spoken word vocals. It’s a vast and cinematic beast that sucks you into its vacuum excellently. “Hypostasis” has a similar pizzazz that builds layer-upon-layer rather well. Eerie and warped whispered vocals drift through the mix as a steady drum beat crushes beneath. Then, following the solemn sound of wind, the track explodes as a tumultuous medley of electronic laser-sounds, tribal drumming, and screeching machine noises merge powerfully before coming to a flat end.

There’s not enough here to retain a listener’s interest. Cosmoprism is an experiment that is too loose and obscure to succeed. However, maybe this is what Tome of the Unreplenished wanted to achieve; maybe this difficult monotony represents the ungraspable, unrelenting and random nature of the cosmos and of reality; maybe it’s Tome’s desire to subvert humanity’s struggle to explain and control reality through rationality and structure; maybe I’m talking absolute bollocks. I, Voidhanger state that the band seeks to “abandon the fetters of musical convention and knowingly steer into terra incognita. The cozy familiarity of the casual fan is here defaced and denounced by the sheer power of sound.” It looks like I’m a filthy casual who can only cope with cozy familiarity then.

Rating: 2.0/5.0
DR: 11| Format Reviewed: 320 kbps mp3
Label: I, Voidhanger
Releases Worldwide: February 3rd, 2017

  • GardensTale

    The spheres! The spheres! The beautiful spheres!

    • AlphaBetaFoxface

      your profile picture is rather fitting

  • Westpaceagle

    This sounds like a troll job…or has hipster metal lost all shame

  • hallowed

    At least it isn’t drawn-out over two discs and 80 minutes of music.

  • Reese Burns

    This is the problem I have with a lot of ambient/atmospheric black metal. It just doesn’t stand up after the initial impact has worn off. There’s a reason bands like Wolves in the Throne Room are so revered, and that’s because they write music that’s rewarding upon repeat listens, with different layers that unfold when you pay close attention. Simple ambient noise over top of some drum lines isn’t enough to make me ever want to come back. On a side note: I’m not sure if it’s intentional or not, but it looks like that picture of space particulate has been unicorned.

    • Milena D

      I think this album was incredible and otherwordly. You and this reviewer are being way too judgemental on a music genre that, im sorry to say, you seem to not be able to fully grasp. Either way, great release from this artistic band that at least tries to break bonds and go against itself in this boring state of extreme music.
      A little bit of info from their facebook and the press release on metal injection: They made most sounds and noise using their hands and musltiple (over 30) instruments were used to make this. It was recorded in an outdoor environment and in a live recording setup. Plus, some amazing musicians contributed in this, like Aort from Code and Ayloss from Spectral Lore, i am sure they are qualified enough to create something that is worth it. OK im done now.

      • Akerblogger

        I don’t think giving this album a disappointing score means that the reviewer doesn’t “fully grasp” the genre as a whole. Just because a band use over 30 instruments in a field using their hands doesn’t mean that by default the album will be good.

        Isn’t it a reviewers job to be judgemental? To attempt to weigh things up and start discussions, which this review has, so I’m glad that judgements have been made. Would you rather I gave this a 5/5 because the album features two members of two well-known bands and because the album features unconventional instruments and sounds?

        Scott Walker with The Drift used a multitude of instruments, noises, sounds, and set-ups too, but the only difference is that, to me, Scott Walker manages to use these unconventional and bond-breaking sounds in a fascinating and original way (e.g the punching of a pig carcass). Cosmoprism, although it does have hints of excellence – as I stated in my review – is too incoherent and abrasive sounding for the diverse instrumentation to stand-out. This is just my opinion.

        edit: I’d quite like to read your opinions of the album, too. What moments do you believe were otherworldly?

        • Milena D

          Well, everyone is allowed to their own opinion of course. You think the album is bad and I think the album is excellent, two opposite opinions, thats the fun of it. You can be judgemental all you want as a reviewer but you seem to not appreciate what these artists set out to create. You are talking about technicalities like “too incoherent and abrasive”, elements that are profound in genres like Power Electronics and Death Industrial (which i am a big fan of) and is apparent and pretty obviously a big part of the sound of this album. Being atonal, dirty, noisy, abrasive, distorted and completely unconventional and just out there is the name of the game in these genres. Btw, I’m not saying that just cause there are two well-known members in this, that you should automatically rate it a 5/5, i am saying that those people are more qualified than you are in creating music and they saw something in this that you probably didn’t, thats all.
          I am not good at reviewing or expressing my opinion online so i can’t really give you a solid example of the otherwordliness that i found in this. What i can say about this album is that it is “an experience”, from the noise, the grinding guitars, the massive percussions and the impressive amounts of layers… and of course this sound is not for everyone, its a very niche style out of a few very “fuck you” genres (noise,power electronics,death industrial). The album doesnt give you everything on a plate, you have to dig for it in all the dirt that surrounds it, its almost like an intense masochistic event and its not supposed to end with you having a positive experience. So i guess you not liking it kind of achieved its purpose! Hehe! Anyway i am not here to argue with anyone, just stating some facts. x

          • Akerblogger

            I didn’t say that the album was bad. I thought that it was disappointing for what it was – I enjoyed many parts of it. Also, I found it ‘too’ incoherent and abrasive to be successful as a 33 minute release; I’ve no issues with incoherence and abrasivenes, but here -at times- I thought it overwhelmed everything else. I completely understand the ethos and philosophy of this style of music,and to a certain extent it is laudable and interesting (though it takes itself way too seriously).

            However we review albums here, not concepts or philosophies, and grade them on criterias that oppose the fundamentals of the music you loves.This could been a rich and layered album but it wasn’t. I was patient, I did dig for all the dirt that surrounds it, and I did try to give it the respect that it deserved.

            It’s been interesting reading your comments though. Your genuine passion for this style does make me want to listen to more from this ‘masochistic’ standpoint.

          • Milena D

            I found this album to be quite layered and rich actually, almost to the point that it would’ve been too much if there were more layers to it. Its been an interesting discussion though, because i was personally mind-blown with this album, i truly think this is a milestone of power electronics mixed with black metal, nothing similar to this has been created before. I can see your point of view, there is no right or wrong here, some people like some albums and some people dont =]. Like i mentioned, this is a very niche and straight up weird mixture of genres, something that i personally appreciate very much, and coming from a band that i would never expect that from was a real surprise, they seem unafraid to go against themselves, and i think it really points out the versatility that they pack, its fascinating to see how completely opposite this release and the previous full-length is between them. Thank you for the chat. If you find the time, look more into Martial Industrial, Death Industrial, Power Electronics and it might help you understand my view a little better!

          • “I am saying that those people are more qualified than you are in creating music and they saw something in this that you probably didn’t, that’s all.”

            Despite the clarification, this is still a terrible argument to make. Great musicians can still make bad music, and consideration of artistic intent is not an absolute requirement in a critical review.

          • Milena D

            This is simply a matter of taste. Some people love it some people dont.

          • Mephisto

            I’m not here to argue… Ah wait, are you guys married. Really enjoyed this, lemme grab some popcorn

        • Thatguy

          You are correct, and very polite…concept does not equal execution.

      • Reese Burns

        I’m going to go ahead and correct you. Atmospheric black metal is one of my favourite genres of music, I “grasp” it, don’t you worry about that. This album though? It’s a load of toss. Glad you feel otherwise though. Also, saying we’re being too judgemental is absurd. Whether you enjoy it or not, you’re making a judgement.

        • Milena D

          Since you grasp atmospheric black metal so much, you should be well aware that the last thing this release is is atmospheric black metal. This is an ambient-noise/power electronics release with elements of black metal, i am not sure where you heard any ABM in this.

          • Thatguy

            Sarcasm will just get you unicorned here.

      • Juan Manuel Pinto Guerra

        You must really like “Chinese Democracy”… lots of instruments, lots of amazing musicians contributing to it… I am also sure Axl must have said at some point or another that anyone who didn’t like it wasn’t able to fully grasp it.

  • André Snyde Lopes

    Damn… I was actually looking forward to this. I thought Innerstanding was great as well. I’m still going to check it out but your review has made me a bit weary.

    • brendan moots

      it’s complete ass. prepare yourself.

  • LExpoZiod

    The music may suck, but the album description on BandCamp gets a 6/5 from me. Truly enlightening stuff.

  • The Unicorn

    Is that a unicorn galaxy????

    • Maybe.

    • Hulksteraus

      My thoughts exactly. That is a very classy unicorning given the cosmic nature of the music at hand, however fire a way with one of your outstanding unicorns if you believe the understated unicorning is to underwhelming.

      • The Unicorn

        Nope. The cosmos has done my job better than I.

    • Not a galaxy, this is the Horsehead Nebula. With a subtle touch of clever PS work:)

  • Iliast

    Little did I know that, like Wolves in the Throne Room with Celestial Lineage, Tome sought
    to explore their passion for drone and ambient by releasing a 31-minute
    mini-album….” Did you mean _Celestite_?

    • Akerblogger

      You’re correct. Thanks for pointing it out. Standards are dropping faster than the Dow Jones…oh wait.

      • Iliast

        Meanwhile, I was unable to either use open quotes or anything resembling formatting in my post…

  • Treble Yell

    Anyone else think Moontower by Dan Swano when they saw the album cover?

  • Juan Manuel Pinto Guerra

    Bullshit words cannot elevate bullshit sounds above bullshit levels. Bullshit is all there is.

  • Mortar4mammut

    Did you just compare this to SunO))) and Darkspace? That clearly shows what kind of understanding you have of it. Stick to reviewing metal.