Invernoir – The Void and the Unbearable Loss Review

We all have styles of metal so squarely in our wheelhouse it’s hard to tell where the wheel ends and the house begins. Weird phrasing? OK, I’ll try again: we all have styles that fit so well, they’re like slipping into a second skin made from stitched-together skins of bands that make the styles we—nope. How about we’re all like a bed-bound shut-in with sores down one side because we never shift position, and each of us has a style of metal that’s the corresponding depression in the mattress and rotting bed linens1 that perfectly mirrors our moribund—know what? Let’s forget similes. We all have styles that are our jam. For Steel, it’s dad thrash. For Holdeneye, cheesetastic power metal that lifts the Gloryhammer high as its pants fall down to the sound of a slide whistle.2 For Ken, it’s everything because he was born without the part of the brain that regulates taste, and for me, it’s sadboi melo-death/doom from the Peaceville family of sadbois. Now, rising from Rome, Italy, comes Invernoir and their Cherd-bait debut The Void and the Unbearable Loss with the explicit “…desire to resurrect the sound of doom music from the 90s.” Is this the befouled memory foam mattress my body has been waiting for?

The album begins, as these things often do, with the fade-in sound of rain falling. What follows is 50 minutes of weepy guitar leads, soaring melodies, mid-paced death chugs, and a dealer’s choice of anguished harsh vocals, anguished clean vocals and anguished spoken word bits — the latter often in Italian, but one assumes they’re about anguish. The Void and the Unbearable Loss is littered with My Dying Bride-isms, but also plenty of second generation melo-death/doom influence a la Swallow the Sun or Doom: VS. Invernoir may be aping the sound of the 90s, but they have more polish, more rounded corners than the sometimes gritty or stark Peaceville Three. In a sense, the seeds and the pulp have been strained out. That’s not necessarily a knock. A new band in 2020 that has marinated in almost three decades of a sound are bound to feel ready-made, but it does remove some vitality in comparison.

I’ll admit that for an album I’m ultimately declaring good — spoiler — The Void and the Unbearable Loss doesn’t put its best foot forward. The opening title track, with aforementioned and very cliched rain sample, is a seven minute instrumental that takes the scenic route getting to the point. The weakest of eight tracks follows. “The Path” has a decent opening riff, but flaws become apparent when the clean vocals kick in. Lorenzo Carlini, who provides cleans to compliment Alessandro Sforza’s harsh growls, is a bit uneven. If MDB is the template, and he’s reaching for 90s gothic, he lands closer to 90s emo. On later songs like “Suspended Alive,” Carlini nails the laconic yet emotional affect, but here he sounds twee. Worse is the spoken word bit, which sounds like someone who’s feeling himself a little too much3 on the karaoke mic after throwing a few back. He sounds more comfortable delivering spoken passages in Italian. One in “The Burden” is much better integrated, but a third that ends the otherwise excellent “At Night” feels tacked on.

The considerable strength of Invernoir‘s debut lies in how successfully they channel their stated influences in small details and larger song structures alike. Standout tracks like “House of Debris” move from gorgeous early Katatonia riffs to Anathema-like ethereality, while the stately guitar lead and massively epic opening to “At Night” could easily have been written by Gregor Mackintosh. Returning to the second wave of the style, the riff and synth interplay that opens “The Burden” seems lifted straight from The Morning Never Came. Coming from me, this is high praise. There isn’t really a weak track from “House of Debris” to the overtly beautiful closer “The Loneliest.” Small moments of Carlini’s early inconsistency crop up here and there, but for the most part he nails the aching choruses. It helps that Sforza’s harsh vocals are well placed and well executed, keeping the death in the doom.

As a love letter to an era that really upped the soaring sadness, Invernoir‘s The Void and the Unbearable Loss is solid. There’s despondent riffs aplenty and guitar leads and maudlin choruses that will have you mumbling something about allergies as you wipe your eyes. Still, there’s no original voice or vision here at all, and if you pay attention to my reviews, you’ll know this puts a cap on the score.4 Still, it really scratches that sadboi itch.


Rating: 3.0/5.0
DR: 7 | Format Reviewed: 320 kbps mp3
Label: BadMoodMan Music | Funere
Websites: invernoir-band.bandcamp.com | facebook.com/invernoir
Releases Worldwide: October 9th, 2020

Show 4 footnotes

  1. Don’t forget about the 1/4″ of skin flakes ready to take flight at the slightest movement of said linens. – Holdeneye
  2. The Questlords of Invernoir ride! Holdeneye
  3. Phrasing! – Holdeneye
  4. How boring! More 4.0ing! – Holdeneye
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