Transport yourself if you will to the outer reaches of planet Aegis VII. A routine mining operation’s in progress with the situation fast souring. The year is 2508 and our story opens up with the USG Ishimura as it sends out an ominous distress signal to the Concordance Extraction Corporation (CEC)… I’ve misled you, this is not an overdue review of that Dead Space. Instead, this is an on-time review of Australian Chris Gebauer’s (Earth Rot and Sensory Amusia) depressive outlet, also called Deadspace, and likened to blackened acts such as Shining (Swedish), Lifelover, Forgotten Tomb and goth rockers Christian Death. Coming across the words Deadspace on the promo list got me intrigued. Would there be some vague concept connection to the science fiction horror game? Would the subject matter revolve around Necromorphs and their “strategic dismemberment,” or would the band make use of space-like cosmic textures and rely on emotions to slice like a plasma cutter? I had to know!
“The Promise Of Oblivion” and “With Tears Of Callous Lust” ring with moments of A Forest of Stars gothic weirdness overlayed with the distinct blackened tragedy and mania I usually associate with Lifelover. You’re quickly introduced to frontman Chris Gebauer’s vocal stylings and those of backing vocalist Drew James Griffiths, ranging from barely intelligible screams, unhinged shrieks, weird murmurings and animalistic howls. They’re nothing sort of insanity, but at the same time they’re oddly soothing, providing the perfect setting for an afternoon that spirals out of control with Susannah Cahalan’s New York Times Bestseller – Brain on Fire: A Month of Madness.
The Lifelover influence, including atmosphere, emotion and rawness continues to run rampant in tracks like “I’ll Buy The Rope” and favorite “The Clouds Won’t Shade The Pain,” with both comparable in pace and melody to the likes of “Svart Galla” and ‘Bitterljuv Kakofani” off Sjukdom. By the time “Oblivion” makes an appearance you’re expecting much of the same, but instead Deadspace follow in the footsteps of Lonesummer and the cleanly delivered lyrics on “Oblivion” are extracted from the opening track on Lonesummer‘s album There Are Few Tomorrows for Feeding Our Worries. Odd, I know. As with Deadspace‘s “With Tears Of Callous Lust” referencing the 2005 film Stay, “Oblivion” also seems to be referencing a film, but I know not which one. Deadspace‘s delivery is considerably shorter than its predecessors, coming across as more stripped down, with less complexity, a rawness that makes it feel like an entirely different number altogether. Backboned by a thin, barely present melody almost Ulver-like in its staying power, the track ends in the throes of a suicide that’s every bit as convincing and dispiriting as anything Shining have put out in recent years.
The back-end of the album sees Deadspace picking up the influence of Forgotten Tomb and while “Schadenfreude” doesn’t feel like it’s a necessary ingredient or that it adds that finishing touch to what Deadspace are cooking up, the Within Deep Dark Chambers Shining moments that bubble though “Pain’s Grey” and even more vehmently through “In The Coldness Of The Darkest Night” bring The Promise Of Oblivion to the stifling and stunning close I hoped for.
Deadspace have put together an angst riddled release with a suitably organic production style that lifts influence both musically and lyrically from the recesses of some of my favorite dark and murky black metal figures. While Drew James Griffiths (Ur Draugr and Watercolour Ghosts), Nish Raghavan (Xenobiotic) and Alex Borserini (Sensory Amusia and I Am Eternal) on guitars and Ben Stanley (Sanzu and Malignant Monster) on live drums don’t entirely have the musical finesse of a depressive giant like Kvarforth (Shining) and this release won’t take up the spot I hold dear for Lifelover‘s Sjukdom, Deadspace have succeeded in putting out some of the better depressive black metal I’ve heard in more recent times. The Promise Of Oblivion is a great introduction to Deadspace, and my hope is that further releases by the band will see more of their own personality and skill shine through.