“Which are the mountains not clothed with your beams? / Which are the regions not warmed by the brightness of your light? / Brightener of gloom, illuminator of darkness, / Dispeller of darkness, illuminator of the broad earth.” Hymn to Shamash, Babylonian Wisdom Literature
In presentation of their idiosyncratic vision of the Sumerian apocalypse, a sojourn from the sun god’s smiting judgement through the underworld itself Viana do Castelo, Portugal-borne black/death metal quintet Vøidwomb achieve a reptilian-strong balance of black metal influences and primitive death metal riffing on this somewhat indulgent 12″ EP. The whole of ‘Altars of Cosmic Devotion‘ bears the stylistic tunnel vision that one could expect from a project just over two years into their exploration of a distinctly modern swerve-driven extreme metal style yet the band appear as seasoned professionals in admirable realization of this effective, but not entirely infectious, debut.
The best way one could distinguish ‘Altars of Cosmic Devotion’ from the expectations its ‘ocean blue shower of death over a tomb’ cover artwork is essentially blackened death metal made by fans of elite black metal — In fact I wouldn’t be surprised if at least one or two of these fellowes were in black metal bands I enjoy. Think of Kosmokrator for textural guitar aesthetics and abrupt riff changes but also keep pre-‘Hero’ era Bølzer in mind as extended, bold riff ideas begin to leap from an otherwise deadpan approach. In some ways what Vøidwomb have created here is what you’d expected from a (mostly) masked band out of their region of Europe yet when I’d sit to parse this extremely eventful progression it’d taken a while to let it sink in that it was only ~18 minutes long as it feels closer to a half hour when entrenched in the full listen. I’m not sure it justifies a big whopping 12″ record format but the album artwork certainly does. For a band you’d think you could predicate at a distance Vøidwomb are (again) surprisingly well-formed and managed to make quite typical subject matter a joy to return to for the sake of their riffs that would detail the underworld itself.
“Summon of Utu-Samash” which uses a Neo-Assyrian conglomeration of two solar gods to depict devout worship as the empire burned, is essentially a first of three movements that connect nigh seamlessly. “Descent to Ersetu” is probably my favorite piece if only for the flavor of its rhythms and the backing vocals that incant to tune of the rhythm guitars, it is a characterizing moment for the band and well, again, a big “riff” moment that continues to pay off upon repeat listens. Though we are not served variations on a theme the entirety of ‘Altars of Cosmic Devotion’ presents a logical progression, a thread of movement that hums and blurs its rasping warrior-blasted movement for the sake of building up motif to present at the endtyme, the title track which closes the EP. “Altars of Cosmic Devotion” presents a notably modified take on the rhythmic map presented prior, moving more clearly into death metal territory and barreling ruthlessly into its double-bass thumping roar of an intro. This is where I’d most liken Vøidwomb to some semblance of classic death metal timbre and I’d really like to hear more of this side of the band. As effective as it is to find all rivers lead to Hell, it was the payoff of this final cataclysm that’d had me feeling some fealty for the potential of this project.
Vøidwomb showed up prepared and in good taste on this debut EP. Every darkest corner and solar ode is considered yet the multitude of smaller details tended to never impedes the flood of bodies they’d cast into the mouth of Ersetu by album’s end. Though I wouldn’t yet describe their work as remarkably inspired or unforgettable in statement if the path forward is any stronger than this fine piece of work they’ll get there. A high recommendation.
|TITLE:||Altars of Cosmic Devotion|
|LABEL(S):||Iron Bonehead Productions|
|RELEASE DATE:||February 19th, 2021|
|BUY & LISTEN:||Bandcamp [All Formats]|
Empyreal Death Metal
Help Support Grizzly Butts’ goals with a donation:
Please consider donating directly to site costs and project funding using PayPal.