It is, perhaps, a strange coincidence that Voidspawn is both the name of the subject of today’s 487 words and a track from Chthe’ilist‘s well-received album also of this year. Both bands draw strongly from Demilich and are comparable in their bleak and cavernous interpretation of death metal. But unlike Le Dernier Crépuscule this is but a 13-minute EP, with a debut full-length reportedly in the works. While I have a short-list of worthy EPs which I plan to compile for an end-of-year post, I felt I couldn’t miss this opportunity to describe to you why you should part ways with $3 and get very fucking excited.
The heart of the black magic cast over Pyrrhic is its sound. Now I know this appears a redundant observation but this goes beyond melody, instrumentation or structure. Or maybe it precedes these. What I mean is that it sounds evil. Oppressive. Monstrous. A cloying sense of darkness bleeds from its every orifice and it’s quite unlike anything I’ve heard before, despite compositionally not falling far from Chthe’ilist or Blood Incantation. While the songwriting and instrumentation plainly contribute to this, I think most credit can be attributed to the production. I don’t know if there was a dedicated producer or (as I suspect) if the band undertook these duties themselves but their vision was realized in the arrangement of the album. Pyrrhic is simultaneously punchy and immediate but will also wrap you up in its dark folds. It has heft and feels like it should be alienating but it nonetheless draws you in. The mix is thick but the instrumental weighting is perfect. Sure, it could be more dynamic but when everything else is so well produced such criticism is insignificant.
Every other part of the music is geared towards facilitating this murkiness and mystery. The guitar feedback and tones are huger than Steel Druhm‘s appetite for burly men wielding swords. This is particularly noticeable in the slower, doomier moments opening “Sisyphean Ideation” and “Fervent Vitriol towards the Public Moralist.” The faster bits are appropriately intimidating and build rock solid walls around the listener, such as on “Pyrrhic.” In lieu of a better way of describing it, the upwards inflection on the ends of chords is weird but gripping, and dissonance is used to great effect. Importantly too, the vocals are muddy and poorly defined; perfect for the atmosphere.
There aren’t enough descriptive words to impress on you how colossal Voidspawn is. This is confidently my favorite EP from the year and these 13 minutes are among the best I’ve heard in 2016. It almost seems unfair to other full-length albums as at 13 minutes troughs to complement the peaks are unnecessary and there’s not a moment wasted on even the slightest filler – but I’ve gushed in a manner which corresponds with my enjoyment. Chthe’ilist? Nope. This is the best Demilich-core this year.
DR: 5 | Format Reviewed: 320 kbps mp3
Label: Unsigned (re-releasing through Unspeakable Axe Records)
Websites: facebook.com/voidspawn | voidspawn.bandcamp.com
Releases worldwide: July 31st, 2016 (through Unspeakable Axe Records September 1st, 2016)