Down Under’s Deadspace have craftily sneaked their way into the upper echelon of bands from the past few years. Their debut full-length was a depressive but dramatic cut of black metal with a strong narrative voice through its measured pace and use of film samples. 2016’s EP felt ‘purer’ as it featured less spoken words no interlude tracks; it was 4 lengthy, cathartic tracks which tracked life and death. A sophomore record called The Liquid Sky released towards the death of 2017 and the high standard is maintained. It simultaneously retreats towards their first release while pushing forward their sound in a subtle but effective honing of their song-writing.
If you saw the black metal tag and came here expecting the next second wave imitator you’ll be disappointed. It’s a long way from that purists’ approach and is therefore closer to the debut than 2016’s EP. It’s strongly atmospheric, wielding a sound replete with post rock influences; much of the album is quite soft and has the shimmering and cascading guitar and keyboard effects synonymous with that genre. Indeed, The Liquid Sky features the least heavy material of any of Deadspace‘s releases. This definitely isn’t bad though and the greater exploration of their softer and atmospheric characteristics uncovers a fresh, gothic tone. That morose feeling of the music draping over the listener, evoked by the likes of earlier Anathema and Paradise Lost, is clearly apparent. Beginning with “Kidney Bleach,” the back half of the record particularly conjures this sensation. This track is scarcely heavier than dark indie rock but it’s emotionally powerful and surprisingly catchy.
The Liquid Sky is an album of contrasts. Those softer passages feature plenty of faux strings, piano, male and female cleans and whispy shit which are all fused emotively. The heavier parts can be very heavy; fully tremolo-picked guitars and blasting drums are utilized though sparingly. The ferocious conclusion to the eponymous final track makes for a great conclusion and ties pleasingly with plaintive clean singing. Even in the heaviness, melodic elements are suffused. Nonetheless, these contrasts don’t just extend to the music – they also touch the record’s tone. Calmer moments tread a fine line between chilled and chilling, as on “Only Tears,” while the energetic ones split the epic and the hopeless, such as the aforementioned “The Liquid Sky.” To emphasize this point, The Liquid Sky is strong across the emotional spectrum. There are moments which evoke angst more than true depression but it’s still impressive.
You aren’t going to slit your wrists in crippling depression – nor will you be terrified by a stark display of evil blackness. But The Liquid Sky is an affecting, atmospheric and melodic record which tracks a satisfying course and feels complete in itself. Each release1 sees a slight variation on their core sound established in 2014 and there’s definitely growing room for their atmospheric and certainly their gothic qualities. Deadspace are disappointingly overlooked and I hope this is soon rectified.
Tracks to check out: “Kidney Bleach,” “Reflux,” “The Liquid Sky”