Gorephilia – In the Eye of Nothing Review

In 2017 I covered Gorephilia‘s Severed Monolith and awarded the album a mixed score. While many disagreed, I couldn’t shake the notion that the gaps in the writing eclipsed the album’s better elements. Although I have found myself returning to Severed Monolith more than expected, I stand by my criticisms. Then, in 2018 vocalist Henri Emil Kuula sadly passed away. As is often the case, the band’s future seemed uncertain. Three years later and Gorephilia have returned with another platter of occult hemophagic horror. Not a band to stagnate, the Finn’s growth can be easily charted throughout their discography. Each release has its own unique character, but third album In the Eye of Nothing boasts the most refinement to date. In their absence, Gorephilia have ensured this new death metal monolith arrives gangrenous yet gestalt. And it looms large and foreboding…

As with many bands of their ilk, Gorephilia have always leaned heavily into their Morbid Angel influence. In the Eye of Nothing goes one step further with some indulgent Blessed are the Sick/Covenant reverence but not at the expense of development. In fact, Gorephilia have improved a number of their flesh-fatal formulas. In the time between releases the writing process has evolved to place greater emphasis on variety, and the album is all the more cogent for it. One glance at the track list and I can immediately recall most of the songs’ structures, which was my biggest issue with Severed Monolith. These riffs are designed to damage but they’re also primed for retention. The guitars’ subtle yet sub-dermal hooks pierce deeply but never detract from the profane atmosphere.

“Walls of Weeping Eyes” does what all good openers should and illustrates everything the record has to offer. Twisting compositions abound with more than a pinch of that early Immolation style. But with each dissonant warp and weft comes enough foresight to maintain propulsion. “Ouroboran Labyrinth” and the aptly named “Not For the Weak” absolutely pummel, while “Devotion Upon the Worm” delves into a bilious mire full of Lovecraftian promise. However, there are also two brief instrumental interludes and, as always, they are completely unnecessary. In the Eye of Nothing is very well paced and clocks in at just under 43 minutes in length. Unfortunately, these increasingly apparent interruptions impede the album’s flow so that it feels significantly longer. I can never be sure if bands include these instrumentals solely to fulfill the amount of contracted songs or just because they think they’re cool. If it’s the latter, fucking stop it.

In the time since Kuula’s passing, guitarist Juuka Aho has taken up vocal duties and his stint behind the mic is a strong one. His growls bear a striking resemblance to Kuula’s and really underpin the material. In fact, a significantly reinforced production enhances the entire album. Everything from the guitars to Kauko Kuusisalo’s Sandovalian kick drums sound bigger and better than before. Tami Luukkonen’s1 bass also does its bit to stir these ominous engagements, particularly on “Simplicity of Decay” where it features prominently among the alternating time-signatures. The solos are clearly influenced by the likes of Azagthoth and Vigna but they retain enough of their own identity, which directly feeds Gorephilia‘s substantial growth. All of these factors converge in closer “Ark of the Undecipherable” for a particularly sinister last gasp.

In the Eye of Nothing is the definitive follow-up album. It builds upon all of its predecessor’s strengths yet does its bit to bridge the gaps. It speaks volumes that a band can suffer such a pivotal loss but still cement their line-up to record such a distinctly improved album. Gorephilia aren’t attempting to break original ground here. But if death metal is your poison and you enjoy the arcane atmosphere, then In the Eye of Nothing has what you need. Heretics and gorephiliacs alike would do well to throw wide those gateways to annihilation and embrace the crucible within. What lies beyond isn’t perfect, but it’s the most convincing these furious Finns have ever been. And I, for one, am keen to watch this domination unfurl.

Rating: 3.5/5.0
DR: 6 | Format Reviewed: 320 kbps mp3
Label: Dark Descent Records
Websites: gorephilia.bandcamp.com | facebook.com/gorephilia
Releases Worldwide: October 2nd, 2020

Show 1 footnote

  1. Also a member of Solothus whose 2020 album Realm of Ash and Blood is highly recommended
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