Ceremony of Silence – Oútis (2019) REVIEW

Forms in mind and created by hand into objects of function almost always rely on the void they create to become useful as tools of living. Men who are likewise molded, by self-sacrifice or indomitable governing forces, serve as vessels in this same way. We create this void from a whole person to serve as colanders of information first, then if one is lucky enough to have the gift of artistry or literal fabrications of usefulness the acquisition of wealth and power create explosive bullet to the thin brick of fleshy confine. At what point is this hollowed non-being comfortable for the sentient? It would seem disparity among mental and physical gifts creates torment among those accepting their limited malleability. Of monstrous evolutionary trait-farming comes the true random generation of transcendent milestone, a phenomenon that is entirely reliant upon the forms void (a bleak environs) to fill, to exist at all. Therein is the gift of ‘Oútis’ the puzzled piece fallen from craft of hands virtually unknown that lands in harmony within a specifically virtuous window where Ceremony of Silence would mold unforced and beyond its intended ulterior fate. Unrighteous, unassuming and entirely mystic in its breathy rifts this Slovakian extreme metal artifact lands glorious, but not pious, as it provides the keystone of brutal intellect for a thousand unfinished arches between blackened atmospheric death and taut progressive wilds.

The duo of drummer (and fine graphic designer) Svjatogor (Porenut) and vocalist, bassist, and guitarist Vilozof (ex-Abbey ov Thelema) would seemingly first unite in atmospheric black metal project Nevaloth which’d develop into a progressive black metal mutant as the years progressed towards dissolution. The two would form Ceremony of Silence in 2015 as a seeming side-project that’d develop more intensely when Nevaloth split in 2016. I learned of most of these groups, exception Ceremony of Silence, when researching coverage of Tujarot‘s limited edition of ‘Existencialista’ last year which featured Svjatogor‘s throat singing and artwork. All of these fellows (including Abbey ov Thelema‘s Delgrast)  were, or are still, involved in dark ambient project 777 Babalon if you’re looking for a bigger picture of like-minded extreme metal artists within the foggy marshes of Slovakia. Though you could see some small part of ‘Oútis’ style developing on Nevaloth‘s final concept album ‘The Antagonist’ in 2013 what appears in 2019 is light years more advanced musically; Stripped of all trite progressive metal-isms and leaning in favor of a modern black/death metal style, Ceremony of Silence incorporates atmospheric blackened dissonance into watery bludgeons of riff and barreling battery, a surging and formless mass of intensity.

The clear appeal of a black metal musicians take on complex atmospheric death metal isn’t so much the sense of atmosphere that black metal sensibilities bring but the nuance that certain guitar technique bring to the the dried well of traditional death metal intensity. For my own tastes this traces back to two records very distinctly; The first is Immolation‘s ‘Harnessing Ruin’ which was for some divisive and for many a taste-maker, a door to many possibilities. The second is ‘Fas – Ite, Maledicti, in Ignem Aeternum’ from Deathspell Omega which pried open a literal ocean of intense guitar techniques and possible applications since. The generational kin of these two parts was manifested in records like ‘Everything is Fire’ from Ulcerate and though you will find a hundred appropriate variants when scouring the internet that’d be the most fitting bloodline in approaching Ceremony of Silence‘s debut, particularly if examining the drum patterns at peak intensity. There are additionally modern elements appropriate for the decade plus since those references still held any public visibility beyond the new what next and in the case of ‘Oútis’ a bit of atmospheric/occult black metal style further lights the oily ocean of their sound along with a down-tuned rhythm guitar tone that is perhaps as modern as a band like Barús but free of any chugging djent-like pointlessness. To touch upon prog-tech death metal sounds, atmospheric death metal lucidity, and blackened avant-occult mutation is a brilliant balance that remains ‘heavy’ in expression.

The core appeal of this blend of seance and deathly roar is always within the nuance that’d unveil with repeat listen. A record like ‘Oútis’ may or may not reveal itself as high art depending on how much nurturing the listener provides its many-headed serpent approach. For my own tastes it provides a lot of what I love about modern black/death metal with a less brutal approach to the distinctly death metal aspects of sound. “Trance of Void” is an excellent example of a central technical guitar run that achieves brutality as it peaks, a key element of what many consider post-Gorguts riffcraft, then the track essentially recedes within a mildly grinding exit from that peak. Here I feel this exemplifies the core Immolation-esque aspect of their sound while also pointing toward the central flaw of a few compositions within, several songs build up in the mind as thrilling performative exercises that unceremoniously drop from the memory outside of the moment. As I said, it will take some nurturing to tattoo much of ‘Oútis’ within but much of it is immediately satisfying; “Into the Obscure Light” is the sort of song that eggs the listener into ‘one more spin’ just to build up to that grand moment once more. “Ceremony of a Thousand Stars” contains the most obviously appealing ‘moment’ on the record as it builds a sludgy death metal beating from wave-like, call-and-response riffs that erupt around the four minute mark into a Mithras-esque cosmic moment of yearning that will almost certainly define the record for many. There are more ‘standard’ brutality-driven feeling tracks (“Trance of Void”) but each is balanced by an atmospheric counterpart (“Upon the Shores of Death”) that help to create a full listen that is both present and being, spacious and non-being.

In analyzing extreme music I feel some amount of existential pain in touting a balanced approach to several points of extremity, as it feels as if I’d misrepresent the vital elements of unbalance that serve to create truly extreme art. To encourage a taming of insanity is a bit of a crime without context, so I avoid this difficulty by suggesting there can be no softening or polishing of this perfect storm Ceremony of Silence have created. If anything ‘Oútis’ is too beautifully rendered to the point of fine art and here I concede, this is the point I want all extreme metal to reach, when intended. The full listening experience is marred only slightly by the elastic, sludging guitar tone for my taste but that is the sort of flaw that can form into virtue over time and the great strength of these Slovakian musicians comes from their gifted patterning of intensity with space-faring unrest. Highly recommended. For preview “Ceremony of a Thousand Stars” is the obvious point of introduction and “Into the Obscure Light” is my own personal favorite piece.

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Artist Ceremony of Silence
Type Album
Released April 5, 2019
BUY & LISTEN on Willowtip’s Bandcamp! Follow Ceremony of Silence on Facebook
Genre Blackened Death Metal,
Progressive Death Metal,
Atmospheric Death Metal

Being and nothingness. 4.25/5.0

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