In my stint with Angry Metal Guy, I’ve encountered not one, but two overly congested forms of black metal. I’ve either encountered black metal that goes beyond its initial consume-by date, or I’ve been bombarded by one-man basement metal, with the latter only impressing me here and there. So when I get a 4-song, 34-minute album with two of the songs dipping below the 7-minute mark, let’s just say the hairs on my neck and back shoot up straighter than those on Don King’s head. And yet, here we are with the self-titled debut album from the Polish one-man armada, Over The Voids. Let’s dissect this thing, shall we?
The good news is that, unlike most black metal albums, lone musician Michał saw fit to put the longest song first, as if to rip the bandage off quick and easy. “Battle of Heaven” starts off sounding like a great tribute to the second wave of Norwegian black metal, with a riff that contains more than a few subtle nods to Ulver and Darkthrone. The problem is Michał beats that main riff to the ground for over four minutes of the song’s thirteen-minute length. When the song switches gears to add some much-needed atmosphere, it’s a welcome reprieve… until that gets beaten to the ground as well. Finally, as the song fades out, we are treated to a somber, beautiful acoustic interlude that should have been maybe a minute and a half, and not the four minutes it took to wrap up.
This lack of self-awareness permeates throughout the album’s entirety, crippling what should have been a potent tribute to icy days gone by. “Prophet of the Winter” opens with an absolutely blistering tremolo riff that is rendered impotent by the time it hits the two minute mark. Thankfully, some acoustic reprieves in the song’s middle and end pull it back up to the level of listenable. Closer “Never Again Will They Hunger” contains some serene, if a bit out of place, clean vocals, but also some of the most repetitious riffing stretched out over eight minutes. Finally, “Ghosts Lay Eggs,” besides containing one of the goofiest song titles that makes me wonder about Pac-Man’s dietary choices, takes a song that should have been three or four minutes tops and stretches it to exactly six minutes.
But, for black metal, at least this sounds somewhat decent. Michał’s a capable musician and vocalist, and I commend his skill with drums and guitars, especially when it comes to the acoustic portions. I would commend him on his bass playing, but it rarely makes an appearance. What I take umbrage with is in the lack of self-editing. I have no problems with songs that go for extended lengths. Bell Witch and Hell, despite being doom metal, recently put out albums containing tracks that hold your interest throughout their excessively long runtimes. They do this by creating atmosphere, switching up their riffs, and trying their damnedest to not beat you over the head with repetition unless absolutely necessary. Writing a long song simply because you can doesn’t mean that you necessarily should.
And it pains me to say that, as Michał has an interesting proposition here with Over The Void. If he can rein in the songwriting a bit, he would have a tighter, more concise album. As it stands, though, I don’t see myself coming back to this album at all. But I will say it’s one of the better one-man black metal bands I’ve heard, and thank fooking goodness he didn’t try to jump on the Deathspell Omega bandwagon. Perhaps next time will do the trick.