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Spectral Voice - Sparagmos review

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Band: Spectral Voice
Album: Sparagmos
Style: Death doom metal
Release date: February 2024

01. Be Cadaver
02. Red Feasts Condensed Into One
03. Sinew Censer
04. Death's Knell Rings In Eternity

"Sparagmos (Ancient Greek: σπαραγμός, from σπαράσσω sparasso, "tear, rend, pull to pieces") is an act of rending, tearing apart, or mangling, usually in a Dionysian context."

Before talking about gnarlier bits of the Greek mythology, let's remember the huge death doom / OSDM revival that happened during the 2010s. Though it preceded that decade and continues to be a relevant sound, something about the 2010s made it a decade in which death metal could be muddy, gnarly, slow and doomy, cavernous, dissonant, and basically have atmosphere as an important component of the sound. That generally came through injection of doom metal, the old "doom death" vs "death doom" categorization, and it made for a pretty exciting time to be a death metal fan. And a reviewer. It did however reach a point where it lead to acts being harder and harder to really pick apart no matter how enjoyable their sounds, hence why my relationship with it as a reviewer has been pretty interesting.

It's quite rare for me nowadays to pick an OSDM album unless I have a very specific reason. Either it's ambitious in some way, or it's a new album by a pretty significant band. Well, Sparagmos is a bit more of the former because it was a bit of a "holy shit" moment realizing that there's a new Spectral Voice record coming soon. After Eroded Corridors Of Unbeing became one of the biggest staples in the modern doom death sound, there have only been teasers in the form of splits with various other bands. With three of the members being in Blood Incantation and that band getting as much success in the underground (to the point where a bunch of silly people lost their feathers at the prospect of an ambient side EP) it seemed like Spectral Voice was sidelined. Well, not anymore.

And back to the album's title, there might be nothing particularly dionysiaque about Sparagmos during the first listen, especially without further knowledge about what the album title means. And then it's also not the most primal or gory as far as death metal goes, but it does have a unique quality that does make sense why the band would choose such an obscure term for an album title. I mentioned how a lot of these OSDM albums would focus a lot on acing a sound, thus having a focus on an atmosphere to immerse yourself into during the listen. That's the case for Sparagmos as well. But the "harder and harder to tell acts apart" aspect of it isn't very accurate here because of how much Spectral Voice are doing with the sound.

The two extremes, the slow doom and the fast death, do have plenty of moments apart and they're pushed quite hard to their respective extremes, leaving plenty of room for each to be polished. The slow doom can border funeral doom but often more in its eeriness rather than just its tempo and desolate feeling. There's something ominous and terrifying to a lot of the mood setting moments, and each of them can have a slightly different way in which the hellish vibe is achieved. Where it would be easier to just have slow sections and fast sections and alternate between the two, the way Spectral Voice do that in increasingly elaborate ways. Sometimes a more crushing death doom sound, sometimes a more cacophonous reverb-heavy layering, sometimes it's a blackened edge, sometimes it's a thunderous rhythm section, sometimes it's chaotic dissonance, sometimes it's pummeling clarity.

The dynamics on this album are immense, not only due to the way the songs are written and structured, but also due to the way the production known when to push being dense and suffocating and when to pull and focus on the mood. But it never stops feeling the biggest thing in the room. It may not be as primal and frantic as its title would suggest but calculated in a way that doesn't feel overly cerebral. It's a balance whose reaches are wide.

Written on 20.02.2024 by Doesn't matter that much to me if you agree with me, as long as you checked the album out.


Comments: 2   Visited by: 59 users
21.02.2024 - 22:20
Rating: 9

Good review, excellent album
22.02.2024 - 12:23
Rating: 8
Auntie Sahar
Drone Empress
Good one Nephew, probably the most aurally intense album I've yet heard this year.... not sure if that's a sign that I'm not looking hard enough though, or that this thing really is downright fucking intense.

I've gotten on my high horse on the site before about how I really don't care for a lot of death doom because I find so much of it leans overwhelmingly more to the doom side of the equation and often just feels like "yeah bro we play doom metal and our vocalist also growls lol." And IMO, it should take something more than that to legitimately be called "death doom." But Spectral Voice do indeed offer that "something more" and make their fusions of the two a lot more even than most other bands.

Honestly I'd say they're a bit more sludge death than death doom, but even then they're not sludge death in the sense of others in that style like Slugdge, Dragged Into Sunlight, etc. Definitely got their own thing going on
I am the Magician and the Exorcist. I am the axle of the wheel, and the cube in the circle. “Come unto me” is a foolish word: for it is I that go.


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