Void Dancer – Prone Burial Review

Metal as a genre is still relatively young. This means both that the meanings and definitions of sub-genres are constantly evolving, and that musicians are continually combining them in novel ways. Void Dancer’s debut Prone Burial purports to be melodic death metal, but is actually more a blend of metalcore and tech death. I’m not mad about it, in spite of being misled, because Void Dancer hit upon something. They manage to do on their debut album what many fail to achieve after several: fuse technicality with punchiness. And they do it in an enjoyable, fairly unique way.

Prone Burial is a little hard to describe stylistically. The closest I can get is it’s somewhat as if August Burns Red made a Burial in the Sky album. This translates to dynamic but concise compositions, enjoyable sparks of fluttery guitar noodling, and bags of headbanging groove. Clint Gee’s vocals are mostly jagged -core screams, with soft, dark Atlantic cleans adding a touch of fragility and a guiding thread through the album. “The City – Deciduous” and “Living Wake” bookend the album, reflecting one another’s melodies and so neatly containing the world of the album through ring composition. These are the kind of ‘intros’ and ‘outros’ that are actually worth including. Zane Smothermon and Ilya Ignatov’s compact guitar solos and instrumental meandering fill songs out with dynamism with natural-feeling transitions that don’t disrupt the flow. Brandon DuPraw’s tight, energetic percussion slides in and out of time signatures, providing a strong, flexible backbone that enhances songs’ fluidity, and grounds them simultaneously. Even the flightiest compositions are satisfyingly solid thanks to Stephen Glade’s assured bass work.

If it wasn’t already clear, Void Dancer’s hybrid style really works. These melodies are bloody catchy. The smoky final act of “High Tide Theatre,” and harsh/clean duet refrain of “Blood on the Rung” in particular still owe me rent for living in my head for weeks on end. But the music is more than just memorable, it’s also compelling, which results from the intelligent fusion of complexity with kick. An urgent tremolo is often found leading an angsty halftime beatdown (“Utopian Sprawl,” “The Unread Palm”). Wall-punching hardcore gives way to cavorting tech-death solo (“High Tide Theatre,” “The Unread Palm”). Ambient plucking introduces smooth drum roll-overs (“Center Labyrinth”) and powerfully layered vocals (“Blood on the Rung,” “To Sleep Astray”). This interplay of rhythms makes for irresistible groove, while the mournful, urgent tones of sung and strummed melodies add pathos.

It’s the seeming effortlessness with which Void Dancer pull it off that stands out. Into just over half an hour of material they pack emotion and tenacity through engagingly technical and progressive compositions that are easily digestible in one sitting. It’s not perfect-“High Tide Theatre” and “To Sleep Astray” end on fade-outs that sap their impact a little, and “The Unread Palm” could do with a trim. Mileage may also vary on the cleans which for some could threaten to stray into the saccharine at points. These are very small problems, however, and the overall package is strong enough to bear them unscathed. It just sounds good, and the crisp, modern sound is the hallmark of the fact it was mixed and mastered by Jamie King, who has most notably worked with prog metal legends Between the Buried and Me. Once you know this, you can definitely hear it, and it’s impressive that an underground band has snagged such a significant producer.

Prone Burial is a true achievement, especially as a debut. It’ll have you banging your head and singing along just as much as it’ll have you making appreciative faces at the stylish riffery. Void Dancer are pulling no punches in their effort to smash into the intersecting scenes of melodic and progressive metal. You probably don’t want to miss this.

Rating: Very Good
DR: 9 | Format Reviewed: 192 kbps mp3
Label: Modern Grievance
Websites: voiddancer.com | facebook.com/VoidDancerBand
Releases Worldwide: April 22nd, 2022

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