Voidfire – Ogień Pustki Review

Man’s Search for Meaning by Viktor Frankl is one of the most powerful books I’ve ever read. I’m fully aware that the book (not to mention the author himself) is not without controversy, but that doesn’t change the fact that I’ve learned an enormous amount of invaluable information from its pages. As a glacially slow reader, I’d have to say that the short book has one of the highest reward-to-time investment ratios of any that I’ve encountered. At a time when the faith of my youth was crumbling beneath me, my workdays were spent trying to make sense of seeing people in unimaginably horrible situations, and the question of life’s meaning weighed heavily upon me, the book presented three ways through which humans can find meaning in this life: doing great work, knowing great love, or courageously facing unavoidable suffering. Poland’s Voidfire is hoping to channel both the first and last of those possibilities by creating a work that explores the idea of “finding artistic inspiration through suffering.”

On their appropriately named debut Ogień Pustki (Fire of Emptiness), Voidfire set out to use an atmospheric style of melodic black metal to weave what I can only assume to be odes to various stages of grief. Anger comes through clearly on the many blistering black metal passages, accentuated by the vicious Polish language vocals of Krzysztof “Virian” Sobczak. He’s got a phlegmy snarl that reminds me of Peter Espevoll’s from Undeceived-era Extol and avoids the monotonous shrieking that ruins a lot of black metal for me. But sadness is equally well represented by Sobczak’s spoken words and Jakub M. Zdzienicki’s melancholic guitar leads and finger-picked cleans that have me thinking of Eneferens often. Zdzienicki’s bass and Lukasz Sarnacki’s drums undergird the whole affair thanks to the production’s hefty bottom end. The bass can be heard driving the proceedings forward throughout, and the drumming ranges from rock rhythms to blast beats depending on the album’s mood at any given point.

Voidfire’s sound is excellently displayed by “-.”1 Zdzienicki’s beautiful clean intro leads into a big power chord and some spoken words, melodic leads playing behind it all as the song slowly builds towards the midpoint’s blackened crescendo. Sarnacki’s kick drum bursts punctuate the chorus, jackhammering the listener while the guitars and bass oscillate in altitude before the track ends as solemnly as it began. After another short clean intro, embedded single “Kwiat Pustki” blasts straight into a meloblack assault. The bass is ever-present, worming through the melodies supplied by weeping tremolos while chords are allowed to ring out. The drumming on the track is simply excellent, and the song shows the synergy produced by three musicians playing to their strengths. The album closes with “Sztorm” and the title track, the former featuring atmospheric sound effects and the latter consisting of a simple, subdued, but effective finger-picked melody that eventually builds to the melodic climax of tapped solos over a double kick drum barrage.

Everything that Voidfire does, they do well, but they just might do a little too much of it. Some of the tracks feel a bit long and some share similar textures and structures, so it can be difficult to pinpoint where you’re at in the runtime. Ogień Pustki works well as a concept album, a fact that mitigates these issues somewhat—the familiar sounds play out more like unifying themes than overt repetition. It’s hard to pick a standout performance since each of the three band members contribute to the record’s success, but if pressed, I’d have to say that Sarnacki’s varied drumming kept me captivated on each listen.

You’ll have to decide if Ogień Pustki is meaningful to you, but my ears tell me that suffering has inspired Voidfire to create some good work. It’s not often that I reach for the more atmospheric style of melodic black metal, but sometimes it’s just what the doctor ordered on cold winter days. I’m impressed by this flawed, but thoroughly enjoyable self-released debut, and I’ll be interested to hear what the band will do next with a little more experience under their belts.

Rating: 3.0/5.0
DR: 6 | Format Reviewed: 128 kbps mp3
Label: Self-Release
Websites: voidfire.bandcamp.com | facebook.com/voidfirebm
Releases Worldwide: February 28th, 2020

Show 1 footnote

  1. What a… dashing… song title.
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