Spectral Voice – Sparagmos (Dark Descent Records)Wednesday, 7th February 2024
Ah, Spectral Voice – Blood Incantation’s slightly less talked about cousin, but my oh my is that about to change. The trio of Paul Riedl, Morris Kolontyrsky, and Jeff Barrett have received gobs of fanfare for the former, and their accomplishments with that band are undeniable. However, Spectral Voice is the project that has always piqued this ear. Otherworldly death/doom that sucks anything adjacent into a smothering vacuum? Sign us up immediately. Their debut and only full-length to date, 2017’s Eroded Corridors of Unbeing, is a fine slab of the fetidly morose. Over six years later, we’re being served a second full dish in the form of Sparagmos. They’ve made us wait, but the patient will reap their just rewards.
Take what the band has established already, turn up the fog to an unfathomable density, couple that with a feeling of the walls and ceiling slowly compressing in, and you’ll have an idea of the sort of aura Spectral Voice is putting forth. Comparable to the colossally thunderous riffs of Evoken, the weighty atmosphere of Krypts, and the dissonant bleakness of acts such as Abyssal and Ataraxie, they’ve concocted a varied yet balanced brew of influences to portray their wares. Immersing into crawling tempos and aggrieved wails, first foray “Be Cadaver” rips and claws with savage intent. Drummer/vocalist Eli Wendler displays a versatility in his voicings that bring a sinister, pain-ridden edge to proceedings, ranging from the most guttural of growls, woeful moans, and blood-curdling screams. Truly the engine that energizes this behemoth.
Sparagmos pushes forward purposefully, turning the tempo up a few notches to a murky death metal level to start “Red Feasts Condensed into One” before slowly pulling back to allow a cacophonous doomy ambiance to take the helm. The many transitions throughout are smooth and carefully plotted for maximal impact, showing the band’s growth as songwriters. Following is “Sinew Censer” to bring a more malice-ridden death metal vibe via plethoras of gargantuan riffs and a rhythmic percussive clinic that will leave a fair share of marks. Closer “Death’s Knell Rings in Eternity” etches bits of funeral doom inspired mournfulness, while also being a track that hypnotically builds, dragging the listener deeper into the abyss until there’s nothing left but bleakness. A riveting conclusion to what is this fellow’s favorite of the four arrangements, though they all combine to be an undeniable connected force.
What’s consistently present is an overarching grotesque horror that permeates the listener with frightening ease. Quite a feat, especially to someone who seeks out these kinds of atmospheres constantly. Very few nail these types of semblance to this level; Altarage and Ulcerate come to mind on the death metal side, whereas Of Darkness and Tyranny equally do so in the doom realm. All heavy hitters who rarely miss, and Spectral Voice near the top. Additionally, Arthur Rizk’s production work must be noted, as the mix captures what Spectral Voice are crafting to every miniscule detail. The album sounds like a dreadful, abhorrent hallucination that cannot be stopped; a marriage of concept and implementation of a singular ghastly vision.
The title of Sparagmos is a descriptive term that originates from ancient Greece meaning to “tear, rend, pull to pieces,” while within that lexicon being a violent Dionysian sacrificial ritual. An apt choice for music as meticulously disturbing as Spectral Voice’s latest dance into our craniums. Sparagmos will do all of these things while leaving a noxious impression that one can’t help to willingly repeat again and again. Spectral Voice are masters of their craft, indeed, and we happily embrace our nefarious overlords of deathly doom musicality.