CLAIRVOYANCE – Threshold of Nothingness (2022)REVIEW

There is much to be said for spontaneity and gut decisions made in creation of pure death metal in the tradition of the late 80’s and early 90’s United States death metal scenes yet today this is most often done for the sake of dumbing down to the eternally fashionable simplicity of ‘old school’ tape-trading era grime, an honorable feat most often resulting in diminishing returns. There are a thousand ways to end up overthinking the whole nostalgia gig in a shitty way beyond that point but the best sort of bands ultimately never make it about more than the goddamned riff and go their own way from the start. It is a phenom worth considering in approach of Warsaw, Poland-borne death metal crew Clairvoyance whom had their own anxious take on classic early 90’s death metal forms when they’d kicked into gear in late 2019, yet they’ve arisen unperturbed by overbearing ponderance beyond the years betwixt on this debut EP, ‘Threshold of Nothingness‘. Their own aesthetic, their own crossover of classic forms, and somewhat notable uptick in the quality of performances all manifest here to suggest that the quintet doesn’t intend to pander but to thrive within what develops naturally beyond purist intent.

Clairvoyance‘s guitarists have developed a style of what I’d consider early brutal death metal adjacent tonality wherein the New York/New Jersey and Texas death metal scenes around ’90-’92 clash and compliment a Finnish death metal-lite creeping violence. It ain’t exactly ‘Ritual of Infinity‘ nor are we landing upon the early 2000’s sweet spot of Adramelech worship we’d all taken for granted at the time but, a lot of what these guys have come up with does fit into the realm of those harder-edged grooves and hardcorish brutal death metal riff-wrigglers without alienating the ‘Onward to Golgotha‘-stokers among us. This’d already been evident on the band’s first demo tape (‘Demo ’20‘, 2020) which I’d reviewed in short due to it being… eh, short at just under twelve minutes. One could fish around various niches and such for precedence in the long-distant past conveying the style of that tape but ultimately we’ve got ‘Threshold of Nothingness‘ here to restate and refine their purpose. At the very least: They’re death metal, they’ve got riffs, and they’ve got a sharp ‘brutal’ side.

The major point of anticipation on my part in approach of this EP was seeing if Clairvoyance‘s simpler, often somewhat jagged-paced riffing would’ve benefitted from an additional guitarist to consider in the mix, ‘writing for two guitarists rather than two guitars’ more-or-less. “Decline into Oblivion” provides us with the expected elevation to start, reeking up a bit of Finnish death burl and striking with a bit more ‘Primordial Malignity‘-esque stink (see also: “The Curse”) as this decidedly complex maze of riff exacts its precision at a deliberate yet middling pace. This is their sweet spot when it comes to marrying true death metal groove with thunderous tremolo-riffed pit ready motions and the main element of riffcraft that’d link the two releases, a rushed yet steady groove which fans of Gosudar and Scorched will appreciate. The evolution of the band’s sound continues to emphasize its slower, heavier motions as its major spectacle and this time with a bit more filth… a certain muddiness that adds a more violent touch to “Chronicles of Emptiness”, the best piece of the lot here in terms of showcasing what Clairvoyance are all about and how far they’ve pushed the arrangements into a more stylized space. No doubt this’ll be the type of song to win folks over in a live setting for its frequent change-ups, moshable movement, and odd use of guitar effects, such as the phase/flange warps they’ve incorporated into a few pieces.

Each song has its moment, usually a bit of flair upon an already savage groove, satisfying bursts of speed (“A Cairn of Souls”) or an energetic riff that stirs the mind into motion yet we’re not at all escaping the wheelhouse of classic underground death metal aggression, this is not a stab at hardcore bounciness or whatever, the purpose of the band in motion is always readable as a riff-obsessed, unholy force. In this sense we have a very fine example of a classic form, twisted where it counts but not breaking any sort of mold or attempting more than Clairvoyance‘s own divination of self, which I’d suggest is still in development, but manifesting as some incredibly dark and listenable craft thus far. So, if you’re looking for a gimmick you’ll fuck off quick but most folks will recognize ‘Threshold of Nothingness‘ as realization of some serious early potential here. A high recommendation.

High recommendation. (79/100)

Rating: 8 out of 10.
TITLE:Threshold of Nothingness
LABEL(S):Blood Harvest Records
RELEASE DATE:May 20th, 2022

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