No bell is rung and no warning given, the wraith-like reach and bounding mastery of ancient technical death metal comes swift and unmistakably evil in its electric cloud-born lunges. Scouring all manner of hill-nook town and boarded commune, their unholy psychic agitation sent flinging like rubberized munitions toward the pious, comes Voidceremony in the wake of eight years spent preparing their torturous volleys to strike the flesh of the ear and void the mind’s warped indoctrination. The inception of this Ramona, California-based duo began just as the short-lived Portalgeist collapsed during the planning stages for an early release, freeing Garrett Johnson (ex-Archaic Mortuary) to team with Jon Reider (Ascended Dead) in search of what they’ve realized today. That realization is ‘Entropic Reflections Continuum: Dimensional Unravel‘, a 33 minute blitzkrieg event aimed upon classic progressive death metal, technical thrash metal and the pursuit of their combined natural evolutionary stages beyond early 90’s technical death metal.
Let’s not dance around it then, this album sounds like Stargazer with a bit of early Immolation influence. In fact Damon Good of Stargazer (and labelmates Mournful Congregation, Cauldron Black Ram) provides his indomitable fretless bass skills for the glorious entirety of ‘Entropic Reflections Continuum: Dimensional Unravel‘, extracting what is quite frankly one of his most stunning and unhinged bass performances since, well, at least 2014 or so. Employing the man with the Midas touch (who has also guested on Blood Incantation and Portal records) made an instant fan of me and I’d venture anyone as aligned with Atheist, Sadus, Horrendous and myriad underground progressive/technical also-fretless classicist crews (Toxodeath, Violent Dirge) as I am will fall out of their chairs as soon as things begin to boil and pop with such intoxicating groove-strokes spilling about. No doubt Damien Herring and his Subterranean Watchtower Studios gig was/is the right place to go for the finishing touches on this sort of record as we’ve seen by way of his work with Horrified and Cryptic Shift of late yet, I’m not sure I saw Voidceremony headed in the ‘old school’ technical death metal direction, right? In hindsight I’d just not paid close enough attention.
The first Voidceremony EP (‘Dystheism‘, 2014) was yet a formative release from younger fellows still finding their rhythms beyond punkish transitional riffs and an approximation of the more frantic ‘Altars of Madness’ and Sadistic Intent-rooted style of death/thrash metal. Their aim towards technical work wasn’t all that apparent beyond “Lunar Qliphoth”, which’d prophesied the style of their second EP (‘Cyclical Descent of Causality‘, 2015). The next step was a murkier death metal tonality marked by dream-like progressions which were surely showcasing some recognizable influence from Stargazer (or similar influences, either way). This was a clear enough statement but a switch to an (arguably) less technical drummer on their third EP (‘Foul Origins of Humanity‘, 2017), wherein the stylistic direction I’d imagined beyond had more in common with a band like Chemical Breath and appeared to warrant the constant comparisons made with early Cenotaph since. On the short review I’d published for that third EP I’d suggested “The rhythms are locked in and the compositions ambitiously reaching… it seems the next step for this rubberized set of ideas is serious production values.” and yet Voidceremony have done much more than give professional polish to their music in the 2-3 years beyond that EP. Instead they’ve showcased a massively redeeming evolution that is ambitious beyond their years and honestly, it might be too potently succinct for its own good. What did I miss back in 2018? “Time Sorceries” was the signal toward the future, hinting at a ‘Scream That Tore the Sky’ outlook that I’d been in too much of a rush to glean clairvoyance from.
“Desiccated Whispers” leads with some unquestionable bass-forward presence on display readying its first violent crunches before anything too slick or liquid can distract the mind from their Sadus-esque attack. I personally could not shake ‘A Merging to the Boundless’ from my mind each time this track kicked off the album and for my own taste that is far, far from a complaint. Where does Voidceremony insert themselves, then? The key to distinction becomes difficult to describe without comparative anatomy, I mean if you’re familiar with the first two Atrocity (Germany) albums and the Death records that influenced them then you’ll immediately understand the thrill of tech-thrashing punchiness applied to that angular, spiraling riff style and made ‘modern’. There are some complex layers involved in getting there but anyone who’d ever spent any serious amount of time obsessing over classic technical death metal origins and progressive death metal permutations beyond ‘Human’ will understand the basal transcendental forms which ‘Entropic Reflections Continuum: Dimensional Unravel‘ sparks vision from. You’ll still recognize this as the continued evolution of the band that put out ‘Foul Origins of Humanity’ despite the wild leap the bass performances represent, yet Good‘s performance is hard to look past and frankly, why would you?
As the album reaches the halfway point I’d shelve the referential part of my mind seeing connections to records like ‘Lo Más Mórbido De La Realidad (Una Observación)‘ and ‘Craving‘ while the nearly nine minute epic centerpiece “Empty, Grand Majesty (Cyclical Descent of Causality)” pushes beyond the jazz-hall death metal of the early-to-mid 90’s and begins to beckon to be understood beyond sub-genre and instrumentation, there exists some wordy, elaborate prose stretched as skin around ‘Entropic Reflections Continuum: Dimensional Unravel‘ that begs to be picked and peeled. I won’t venture a guess as to what specific unearthly horrors the lyrics divulge but a procession towards the void, nothingness fulfilled, seems to be the bigger picture. “Binded to Unusual Existence” was the pivot point for my taste where Voidceremony‘s debut went from impressive curio to one of the more essential classics-minded technical/progressive death metal records in recent memory; It is the sort of piece that begins with one (of many) riff-til-you-pass-out runs on the album before it chooses its directional attack, a brutal roulette-selected target that reaches for the ideal of ‘A Scream The Tore the Sky’ and achieves it without an ounce of struggle. You’ll have to decide for yourself if that is sheer vibe mastery, a question of obviate association, or my own admiration for machine-gunned death metal riffs but either way there is enough structural flourish to make it stand out on each listen. “Sacrosanct Delusions” is perhaps the only piece where the lyrics are memorably applied and, generally speaking, that’d be my only minor complaint — I’m not sure I’d felt the force of the lyrics within vocal performances otherwise.
“Abandoned Reality” changes things up just enough to avoid the relatively short album’s drying out with its central statement eventually moving towards some Morbid Angel-esque crunching around the 2:30 minute mark. Sure, it isn’t much more than a few quick ‘Domination’-esque hits but it is potentially something to grow on in the future now that they’ve realized the original goal of the project. “Solemn Reflections of the Void” is the point of ecstatic release for the album where the guitar tone threatens to grind at my nerves yet the fretless bass’ use of chords and ornate shapes liquefies the tiring mind enough to maintain steadfast attention. This is undoubtedly the right point of release, a warbling and bent progression signaling to a final cold resting place of stars. The satiety felt from succinctness is profound to the point that it creates hunger for more listens, perhaps egging on countless repeated cycles of the full spin. ‘Entropic Reflections Continuum: Dimensional Unravel‘ might suffer from some amount of sameness throughout but perhaps none more than any classic that it could be likened to, and had it varied vocal textures or some play with effects (or mood) on a larger scale it’d lose the vicious amount of focus created. Hell, I’m still rambling on about it without having mentioned the fine cover art by Italian artist Ivory Crux or how impressive Charlie Koryn‘s drumming has become over the years because I’d rather keep rambling on about it and keep listening to it. Voidceremony‘s debut is an addictive ‘old school’ technical death metal thrill ride, charmingly lux as it is ruinously violent — A high recommendation.
High recommendation. 4.5/5.0
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