The mind of a death metal fan wanders. A morbid and picturesque landscape, dotted with caves appears. From each cave comes the rattle of death metal. Bands hunker deep within the earth, spaces normally reserved for the roots of the tallest trees to burrow and drink their sustenance. The brave or curious fan might venture across the fields, stepping over the remnants of singed scrub brush. They might even enter one of the caves. Overcoming the stench of decay and rot they slither and slide deep into the cavernous abyss that houses Spectral Voice. The sounds in the distance are putrid. Ghoulish screams and howls curl up through ancient passageways. Distorted string instruments reverberate off the stone ceilings and clean themselves in the crystalline pools sprinkled throughout. The cave walls resonate with the bashing of drums. Circular drums the size of small cars covered in tightly fitted skins threaten to crack the roof of the cave trapping everyone inside. The rumble of bass thwaps off the cave walls creating a dull rumble in the muddy floor. It’s here, deep inside the wretched earth, that the death metal of Spectral Voice is made and recorded.
For those wondering, this is not a carbon copy of Blood Incantation. In fact, the two musical productions don’t really reside within the same hemisphere, with regards to genre. Sure, the bands share more than a few members (as in two guitarists and a bassist) but that doesn’t equate to a band that sounds remotely similar. In contrast to Eroded Corridors of Unbeing, Blood Incantation’s, Starspawn features much cleaner production, more pronounced instrument separation and far more cohesive composition. Spectral Voice is the antithesis of those things, and quite intentionally so. Their debut LP is career-wise similar to Chthe’ilist’s LP, Le Dernier Crepescule, in that it contains a majority of previously recorded songs (both live and demo versions) that are tweaked and re-recorded for Eroded Corridors of Unbeing. Also, much like Chthe’ilist and Timeghoul, Spectral Voice is taking their primary inspiration from Finland’s death and doom scenes (think Abhorrence and Rippikoulu) and blending that sound with more aggressive, harsh funeral doom like dISEMBOWELMENT and Indesinence.
Let’s spend a moment on vocals here. The vocals across the forty-five minutes that make up Eroded Corridors of Unbeing are, on their own, quite proficient. There’s plenty of diversity, moodiness and a touch for situational usage. Yet, for all their conversant competency, they tend to end up lost, muddled in the mix or perhaps just not dynamic enough when compared to the stacked guitars. Regardless, it becomes a situation of trying to hear things that aren’t there, things that could be there if the vocals were more present across the album–perhaps more active or prescient. Yet, there are times where rather than getting lost the vocals actually leap to the front and lead with a touch for subtlety and mood.
Label: Dark Descent Records.
Possessing a stronger second half, Eroded Corridors of Unbeing closes on a high note. Similar methods are manipulated throughout the album but, as the end gets closer, and the songs become shorter, and more chaotic, the effectiveness of the composition becomes more clear. On “Dissolution” the vocals become an afterthought, merely harsh, rhythmic punctuations to an otherwise bludgeoning landscape. Often juxtaposing double bass or standard blast beats with clean, funeral doom guitars, the closing track hammers home Spectral Voice’s vision before leaving the listener floored. It shouldn’t be lost among the murk that “Dissolution” although an outro to the album, provides the most head-bangable three minutes on the record–a record that provides more than a few chug parts (it seems each song attempts at least one).
To say this album was “highly anticipated” would be an understatement. Spectral Voice have been darlings of the underground and the tape scene for years. Their live shows have garnered praise, intrigue and more than a few quality track recordings. So, expectations on Eroded Corridors of Unbeing were certainly high. While most tend to veer towards extreme opinions, it’s most likely that Eroded Corridors of Unbeing will hold a spot in the ongoing deluge of quality death metal releases leave listeners excited about the future but ultimately fail to break the walls of death metal and forever change the genre. This is a good, above-average death metal album that borrows heavily from doom and funeral doom mostly interweaving the two seamlessly and beautifully. There are some wasted moments, perhaps interludes, intros and outros bleed too long. But the flaws, even the production flaws which presented an initial hurdle, are ultimately minor. Eroded Corridors of Unbeing is best described as worthy. And, that cover art is dank, yo.