Written By: Hell³
One of the little rituals this modern world has created around music is the five-second Google “research” for whatever relevant info we can find on a new or unknown act. Doing this for Spanish black/death metallers Sheidim pointed me to a wiki-page about the shedim, demons from Jewish tradition that follow death and fly around graves. It also gave me a bunch of names that were as unknown to me as this young group. But there were two repeatedly referenced names that I knew. The first was Watain. Early Watain at that, which is generally considered a Good Thing™. So that gave me hope. The other was Suspiral, made famous on this corner of the Internet for the critical panning they got from our esteemed scribe Grymm earlier this year. And that gave me dread.
Soon after hitting play it became clear they weren’t replaying Casus Luciferi bit by bit. There’s a vague similarity to that sound, but they have enough creativity to make their music stand apart. The most furious blast-beats are like the big names in the movement such as Mayhem or Dissection, but that’s hardly unusual. At the very least they made certain their relation to Suspiral doesn’t go beyond hailing from the same country and playing black/death metal.
Right from the starting track, adequately named “First Poison,” you can hear that one area in which Shrines of the Void indisputably succeeds is the production. With a clean mixing/mastering job that shows off the instruments with glaring clarity, the average DR12 demonstrates that you don’t need to squash the dynamics to a pulp to get that oh-so-elusive claustrophobic production. While the production values are clearly above what you get from recording into a garbage can, this may be seen as a Bad Thing™ by kvlt types, deviating from the necro style as it does.
Sheidim also demonstrates some healthy self-editing, putting Shrines of the Void just under 37 minutes total playtime. There is just one song over the 7-minute mark, the outstanding “Amrita,” which best showcases what these grim Spaniards can do, throwing delirious leads interspersed into a tribal rhythm with enough confidence that made me raise an eyebrow or two, despite my now cynical view of the rigid outline of this sub-genre.
Title track “Shrines of the Void” is remarkable for being the most Watain-like track, which is kind of a backhanded praise as it segues into one of my main complaints with the record. There is enough proficiency, creativity, and most of all, sheer passion to recognize this as a very solid debut, but barring the experimentation on “Amrita” there really isn’t much music that may leave the listener thinking “Yeah that’s classic Sheidim and I would recognize it anywhere”.
Besides this, the band showcases a nice balance between the brooding bits of their music and the extreme outbursts that fulfill the genre’s blasphemous ethos. This is most evident on “Sunken Nigredo,” where the lead riff is transformed and evolved through switching tempos carried off by a very skillful performance from the rhythm section. And that’s probably one of the best qualities of this album, you get the sensation of a true group effort where every part of the machine is right on time with the next.
All in all, Sheidim stomps out with aplomb on a very credible first foray into the wilds. They demonstrate enough commitment to elevate what could be considered an average record into something genuinely good and enjoyable, albeit a bit short and at times incomplete. If they manage to keep this same fervor with the same spectacular production values, and also develop the unique musical personality hinted at here, they have the potential to become one of the most interesting black metal acts from the Iberian peninsula.