Tersivel – To the Orphic Void Review

Few bands in metal have the combination of popularity and totally idiosyncratic sound that Gojira enjoys. The first time I saw the band perform, it was still playing support for Fear Factory; nowadays that’s hard to imagine, and would most likely be the other way around. On top of that, its style is instantly recognizable; mechanistic, multi-stage, palm-muted riffs full of syncopation and odd time signatures combined with complex drum fills and patterns. It’s so readily familiar, in fact, that the band have begun to sound like a flanderized version of itself, and any band taking inspiration from the Frenchies is bound to run into copycat accusations. That didn’t stop Tersivel from trying anyway.

To the Orphic Void is the Argentine / Swedish trio’s first signed record and third overall, and the inspiration from Gojira is clear and unabashed. Coarse, near-growl vocals, the typical staccato sliding riffs and heavy-handed, technical yet off-kilter drumming, the elements are all there. But rather than trying to beat Gojira at their own game, Tersivel has taken this base in a different direction. Opener “She” is the firmest statement of intent to this end, with downtempo gloom and surprisingly great flourishes of Hammond organ, drifting into an ambient second half that wouldn’t be out of place on a Devin Townsend track.

While the following tracks are a tad less outlandish, they are no less effective. “Weeping Iron Tears” is appropriately dramatic, the orchestral elements applied skillfully without being overly heavy-handed. The dark bombast, wry swirls of harpsichord and simmering mystery of “The Ferryman” brings to mind my recent voyages in the game Hades, which feels thematically appropriate; it’s a track that wriggles under the skin and seems to yearn for the light. But the pinnacle of the album is “Moving On,” a track that collects and concentrates Tersivel’s greatest strengths. The driving drums and machine gun riffs are joined by a fantastically executed swell of symphonics that evokes both hope and hopelessness. The vocals here have a quality of desperation reminiscent of King Apathy, further deepening the emotional effect of the track. Though the production is pretty basic overall, and the master could use a little more room, the mixing is solid, avoiding the traps of symphonics overpowering everything else or the bass disappearing beneath all the layers.

It’s a fantastic sound and executed wonderfully. It has both groove and gravitas, it has big hooks and great depth, and it holds my rapt attention for most of the running time. Sadly, though, the finale kind of drops the ball. “Transmigration of the Soul,” the longest track of the album at over 10 minutes, takes too long to get to the good part and drags its feet on the way out. Sure, the good part incorporates what sounds like one of those printers that people on the internet reprogrammed to make music, and it works surprisingly well, hitting like a menacing cyborg. But on the heels on “Shivering Deadly Cold,” the track that stands out the least across the album, it is a bit of a letdown.

Despite the weaker finale, To the Orphic Void is a killer. Whilst comparisons to Gojira will be inevitable, Tersivel sounds more vital and more focused than their French counterparts. The emotional depth is stronger, the songwriting more varied. Tersivel has a freshness, a willingness to experiment for better or for worse. This is the band’s first label-backed album, and I can’t wait to see how they develop from here on out. This adventurous, gloom-laden epic has immeasurable promise for something truly astonishing.

Rating: 3.5/5.0
DR: 6 | Format Reviewed: 320 kbps mp3
Label: Uprising! Records
Websites: tersivel.bandcamp.com | tersivel-music.com | facebook.com/tersivel
Releases Worldwide: February 11th, 2022

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