Voidceremony – Entropic Reflections Continuum: Dimensions Unravel Review

Old school death metal will never go away. At least, I hope it won’t. While the style’s prominence waxes and wanes with the decades, it seems that there are always a few bands out there content to play like it’s 1994, and I will always listen to at least a few them that do so. The 2010s saw an explosion of death metal releases recorded under the illusion that the ‘00s never happened, and at this point the revisionist history has become textbook knowledge. With heavyweights like Tomb Mold and Blood Incantation drowning in the love of the underground, proggy OSDM has never been so widely celebrated or practiced. If you’re a player in the death metal underground, that makes it an ideal time to switch focus from your nasty death metal band to your proggy death metal band and release your inscrutably titled debut album.

Jon Reider and Charles Koryn are death metal players, they do have a nasty death metal band (Ascended Dead), and here they join forces with Mournful Congregation frontman Damon Good on bass under guitarist/vocalist Garrett Johnson to release Entropic Reflections Continuum: Dimensions Unravel. Voidceremony’s sprawling and at times psychedelic music hews close to the shape that Horrendous carved out with Anareta and Idol, a similarity magnified by Damian Herring’s characteristically warm and deep production. The bright, scratchy guitar tone is reminiscent of Vektor, the fretless bass is rubbery and resonant, and the drums – except for the low, muffled kick – sparkle. Entropic Reflections sounds vibrant and just a tad aged; a perfect match for the band, because just like Horrendous, Voidceremony prize fluidity over brutality. Winding, harmonized melodies weave through the record with grace and malice, dictating the shape of riffs to come.

At its best, Entropic Reflections cleverly twists its riffs into one another in thematically tight sections. “Dessicated Whispers” begins with a Tomb Mold-style progression from melody to crawling death-doom, followed by a double-time reprisal of that same doom riff. “Empty, Grand Majesty (Cyclical Descent of Causality)” stretches its first standout riff across three different metric backgrounds before grinding down into grim tremolo work. The final minutes of “Solemn Reflections of the Void” are similarly effective, expanding a tenuous chord progression into a triumphant final melody. Entropic Reflections is full of clever little twists and tricks.

Despite these strengths, I find it difficult to connect with Entropic Reflections. Part of the issue is Garrett Johnson’s vocals, which appear at random within songs and don’t add much when present, relying on reverb to flesh out a one-dimensional delivery. Charles Koryn’s drum work likewise feels stuck in Ascended Dead mode, rarely providing much interesting accompaniment to the winding guitars and bass. But even with a stronger vocal or drum performance, Entropic Reflections probably wouldn’t win me over. While adventurous, the record feels unfocused, lacking both standout songs and a clear long-form structure. The band can twist a riff any which way, but few of the melodies here feel deserving of such elaboration, and the band seem more interested in experimenting with their ideas than in refining them into effective units. Without memorable peaks or clear signposts, it’s easy to lose track of the record. As a result, Entropic Reflections feels much longer than the 32 minutes it runs in.

Entropic Reflections Continuum: Dimensions Unravel is the exact album its name suggests. Yes, it’s a progressive, old school death metal album, but no, you can’t really tell what it’s getting at. The parts are all there, but they’re not strung together in a sensible way. And that’s a shame, since pieces of the album are very promising. Damon Good’s bass performance is a real treat, skillful and impressive without overrunning the rest of the players (think DiGiorgio on Individual Thought Patterns), and the band’s ability to reinvent material is quite impressive. With a keener ear for performance and a bit of inspiration, Voidceremony’s next inscrutably-titled record might be one to watch out for.

Rating: 2.5/5.0
DR: 8 | Format Reviewed: 320 kbps mp3
Label: 20 Buck Spin
Websites: voidceremony.bandcamp.com | facebook.com/voidceremony
Releases Worldwide: June 26th, 2020

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