Sepulcros – Vazio Review

Over the last almost-eight years of writing reviews here, I’ve become quite aware of the challenge of selling bands and albums to most readers. Try as I might, though, I’ll admit that funeral doom as a whole is an especially tough sell. Those who know… well, know. But the genre’s nigh-impenetrable lack of speed, lack of riff variety, and gargantuan lengths make it difficult for most people to break into such a sullen, powerful sub-genre. Being a new act makes it even more so, as you’re also competing against the greats of the genre. So what does Portugal’s Sepulcros do to try to separate themselves from the pack with their debut, Vazio?

For starters, the quintet matched the downtrodden aura put down by luminaries such as Eye of Solitude and Mournful Congregation, as expected. But what’s not expected is just how outright ominous and even menacing the four proper tracks are. “Marcha Funebre,” for example, reminds me of early, early My Dying Bride, but retold through the eyes of, say, Vainaja. The opening riff carries such a hefty weight on its shoulders, marching forth like a funeral procession on a smog-filled gray afternoon, until the song begins blasting and flailing at everything in every direction. It’s akin to a legendary monster returning to its home to find its offspring slaughtered, so it wrecks havoc upon the unsuspecting village nearby in a fit of bloodied, horrifying revenge. It’s not at all what I expected from a funeral doom album, but it’s the frightening, welcome change of pace I didn’t know I wanted.

But that’s not the only welcome surprise in store. “Magno Caos” somehow ups the ante with ridiculously hypnotic riffs, a crawling rhythm that doesn’t so much recall a mournful voyage as it does the unsettling feeling that an unsuspecting human is about to meet their grisly, unwelcome demise, and vocalist SB’s monstrous growls and birdlike shrieks that double and triple down on the tension. The title track and “Hecatombe” both come the closest to traditional swans-are-turning-loose doom, but even then, the cavernous and foreboding lurch of the former and the “it’s so beautiful and sunny and warm what was that over there OH FUCK OH FUCK OH FUCK” feelings evoked in the latter basically ensure that any sort of semblances to the bands of lore are at their scant minimums. Vazio lumbers to the beat of its own desolate, murderous drum, demanding (and receiving) any and all attention it commands.

With all that said, there are some hiccups. The mix isn’t going to be for everyone. While I appreciate such a tar-thick, bass-heavy, overdriven-to-the-max production, as it fits the music to a T, it does make for some painful listening when the band goes into Blast Mode. I will admit, it took several listens to get used to, and even then I found myself lowering the volume at times to withstand the punishment. Also, while the four proper songs are all colossal beasts, the brief intro “Involucro Oco” and outro “Humana Vacuidade” could have either been omitted entirely, or tacked on the start of the title track, and the end of “Hecatombe,” respectively with little or no consequence. But other than the mix, it’s such a minor quibble when compared to how much of a hulking beast Vazio is.

I don’t usually expect funeral doom to portray a frightening landscape, and I also don’t expect a young band to nail it on their first go-’round. And yet Vazio, in all of barely over 37 minutes, flipped the script on what funeral doom metal should sound like, all while cementing Sepulcros as not only a new band to keep an eye out for, but also one that could very well change the game on a genre that’s loved by the devoted, yet despised by the outliers. To think, this is only a debut, and already we have a new beast to keep an eye on, and be terrified of.

Rating: 4.0/5.0
DR: 9 | Format Reviewed: 320 kbps mp3
Label: Transcending Obscurity Records
Websites: |
Releases Worldwide: March 12th, 2021

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