Stop the presses- Germany’s Ingurgitating Oblivion have dropped one of the best albums of 2017, and possibly an all-time great in the realm of explorative/avant-garde death metal. So before you read any of what I’m about to say, please go purchase this fine piece and listen to it whilst you enjoy this review.
All settled in? Great. Vision Wallows in Symphonies of Light is a gigantic step forward from the band’s 2014 effort Continuum of Absence, which was no slouch in the creative department itself. Where Vision Wallows takes its greatest stride is in the use of negative space, repetition, and atmosphere. Four total pieces spanning 52 minutes would normally be an instant turn-off, as a vast majority of these “tale in four acts” style records (atmospheric black metal, I’m looking in your direction) meander and leave gigantic sonic holes for the sake of length. Ingurgitating Oblivion, on the other hand, present their art in a very precise, blueprint-like syle. It isn’t obvious on the first listen, nor should it be, but every replay peels back another intention. Opening movement “Amid the Offal, Abide With Me” rips open with sheer speed and a fairly typical death metal riff, but quickly shifts into a more subdued, almost jazzy section featuring some truly amazing percussion and a minimalist guitar presence that lets the rhythm section take the buildup in a less natural direction.
Speaking of the rhythm section, this is one of the best I’ve ever heard. The way the bass dances around these technically-proficient-yet-never-mechanical drums is truly a wonderous thing. And the snare sound (without looking into it, it’s a safe assumption that this is a piccolo snare, if the tell-tale ping on the return is a clue) is just delightful. Of course, great drums do not a great album make, but awful ones sure can break a winner down, and the playing on this is, dare I say, fun as well as functional.
The centerpiece here is the nearly 23-minute epic “A Mote Constitutes What To Me Is Not All, And Eternally All, Is Nothing.” The graceful, elongated build process here will almost seem like overkill upon the first listen, as will the bookend after the volcano of agression that oozes throughout the center. It’s after repeated exhibitions that the layers start to congeal and the true beauty of this exercise starts to make sense — there is hardly a squandered second in relation to the complete composition. The way sections reach their natural conclusion and fade back into parts previous is exquisite.
It would be a great disservice to not discuss the main riff on the title track. Spoiling an entire album like this with description after description of what makes it brilliant would be a dick move, but it needs to be said that this riff is moving in a most triumphant way. It’s the kind of riff that sticks in your head long after initial contact.
If all of this praise seems like a bit much, rest assured it is fully justified. Us critic dorks aren’t an easy lot to impress, and stuff like this is readily dismissed about a dozen times a day. Vision Wallows In Symphonies of Light is a revelation and is likely to be revisited for years to come.