Over The Voids – Hadal Review

The Fall, the sole member of Over The Voids, has stated that the great motivator is his ‘fear of death.’ This infatuation with the unavoidable is the pulse of metal and the life force of Over The Voids, a spectral blackened project that seeks to evoke the mystery of the second wave whilst constructing an immersive narrative. When not crafting tales of the void, Poland based The Fall has performed live with Mgla and Odraza alongside creating original material for his other main projects: Medico Peste and Owls Woods Graves. Mixed and mastered by M. of Mgla, Over the Void’s second full-length Hadal is a work carved from the heart of the impressive Polish scene. The hadal zone, the deepest region of the ocean, is named after Hades: the god of the dead and king of the underworld. Hadal is a trip into an oceanic hellscape, a vortex of misery and melancholy that even the most vibrant and life-loving of unicorns would struggle to escape from. 

After an airy instrumental opening, wispy clean vocals drifting over acoustic solitude, “One Commandment” kicks in with woody, organic warmth rather than cold, blackened antagonism. The lead guitar tremolos lack scathing edge; instead, they softly lap at the feet, slowly eroding away in the form of depressive, atmospheric folkiness. “One Commandment,” and a fair few tracks here, move through various mid-paced vistas, simmering rather than boiling to exploding point. Over the Voids take a subtle approach that implements deft layers of luscious, spectral sound, occasionally allowing a denser crush to push through. There’s a sense of crookedness to “One Commandment” that’s oddly alluring; beyond the basic blackened format, the vocals, structures, and guitar solo in particular have an off-kilter tone that sits uneasily, both satisfying and off-putting to a listener. A hopeful opening. 

There are a handful of moments that either attempt to demonstrate heightened bleak aggression or wistful depression. Increasingly barbaric layered melodies ride the crust of “Witchfuck” and for the first minute or so the intensity is attractive. The thumped groove acts in contrast to the safeness of previous track “In The Great War of Nothing,” but the guitars lack vitriol, shimmering in the background when they should be incandescent with sharp rage at the fore of the mix. It lacks a heft; even when The Fall shouts ‘witchfuck!’ it falls flat, as if he’s frightened of his mother hearing him curse. In the wistful depressive mode, Agalloch style cleans ride glistening arpeggios at the heart of “Stone Vault Astronomers.” A basic atmospheric dynamic is at work here – lofty melodic airiness makes way for a galloping section of heaviness. Both fail to reach the high and lows of their respective moods. Sauntering into a dark horizon, the song fizzles to black. 

The back end of Hadal is stronger. The melodic spine of “Prodigal King,” merged with the faintest downcast traces, is successful. Though simple, the main riff manages to weave its way into the heart: a heart opened for excavation. Twinkling transitions near the midpoint intensify the melodic wash of the track. Here, Over the Voids have reached their engrossing apex. Their sound is less disparate; elements merge into a satisfyingly tangled heap, layered melody, melancholy and myth sending the track cruising through fantastical landscapes. The most conventionally black metal track, “A Tribe With No Mythology,” is a two-minute storm that makes a swift and unforgiving impact, especially strong in relation to the melodic vastness of “Prodigal King.” Over the Voids find their groove when the album comes to a close. Similar to “Prodigal King,” the melodic thrust of “Corridors Inside A Glacier” is strong. Vocal hooks – ‘corridors inside a glacier’ snarled through lofty melodies – give the track a sense of individual identity that Hadal lacks. Returning to the tracks from the first half of Hadal, “Corridors Inside A Glacier” peters out, undoing the solid work of the opening parts of the song.

The short instrumental closer “Thin Ice” melts Hadal into an ocean of similar sounding bands, a droplet amongst a trillion droplets. There certainly seems to be a narrative to Hadal and nothing strictly follows expected norms. Playful creation is commendable but, unfortunately, Hadal fails to deliver a captivating plot. As a whole it lacks a visceral edge. It doesn’t quite hit the core of melancholy or dismality that the acoustic breaks and melodic touches try to reach. Stuck in the middle, Hadal is trapped in a middling crosscurrent.

Rating: 2.5/5.0
DR: 8 | Format Reviewed: 320 kbps mp3
Label: Nordvis Produktion
Websites: overthevoids.bandcamp.com | facebook.com/overthevoids
Releases Worldwide: August 28th, 2020

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