VoidCeremony – Threads of Unknowing (20 Buck Spin)Wednesday, 12th April 2023
Having made their full-length debut in 2020 with Entropic Reflections Continuum: Dimensional Unravel (say that five times fast), VoidCeremony laid out an intriguing incarnation of technical death metal, combined with hints of black metal along with a jazzy nuance. Led by guitarist/vocalist Garrett Johnson, along with heavy hitters in drummer Charles Koryn (Ascended Dead/Funebarum), bassist extraordinaire Damon Good (Mournful Congregation/StarGazer), and fellow guitarist/vocalist Philippe Tougas (Chthe’ilist/Worm/Funebarum), we have a seasoned group of musicians who ply their trade in a myriad of genres. Their first was an enjoyable offering, while also evident that everyone was still feeling each other out a bit.
VoidCeremony have displayed sizable potential thus far, and with a multi-faceted genre melding, what to expect with their second album Threads of Unknowing was, to steal from the title, unknown. If expecting a stylistically similar release to its predecessor, you’d be off the mark. A large amount of the blackened elements have been jettisoned in favor of further traveling down the tech death path. Unpredictable guitar licks and riffs come from all directions at an inconceivable rate, resulting in a dense production that can make one a little woozy. “Threads of Unknowing (The Paradigm of Linearity)” is frenetic, with Johnson and Tougas flying around their respective fretboards with reckless abandon, while bassist Damon Good shows off skills high in the mix. Beginning with a dissonant riff on “Writhing in the Facade of Time” provides brief stability, before launching into a bevy of guitar-led mayhem that’s cutting, yet somewhat muddled in large parts.
Tracks such as “Abyssic Knowledge Bequeathed” show signs of old school death metal roots, along with more time changes than can conceivably be counted, while “Entropic Reflections Continuum” is mainly pushed along by wild bass plucking and free form jazz undertones. An instrumental song in “At the Periphery of Human Realms (The Immaterial Grave)” provides some breathing room towards the end of the album, which could have come in handy if inserted a little sooner in the tracklist to allow one to come up for air. Nevertheless, this all leads to the 11 minute epic “Forlorn Portrait: Ruins of an Ageless Slumber.” Far and away the entry with the most coherent songwriting, well-placed changes in direction, and an equal abundance of memorable melodies and riffs. The band’s proficient technicality is still proudly on display, but formed into a galactically proportioned song that weaves all of the best elements of VoidCeremony together.
That song is both the shining piece and the largest bit of frustration when it comes to Threads of Unknowing: the band figures it all out in the end, but the four fully fleshed out songs (and one instrumental) preceding are admirably unrestrained, but at worst are directionless and convoluted. Comparisons with Ulthar’s brilliant double release earlier this year (shameless plug of our Anthronomicon and Helionomicon reviews) are also difficult to avoid, especially since both are 20 Buck Spin artists. Ulthar have attained a brilliant musicality and compositional maturity with these two albums, showing experimentation can pay off in spades, while VoidCeremony haven’t quite reached that creative zenith with consistency.
For fans of over the top showcases of skillful technical death metal with minimal structure and a whole metric ton of guitar and bass sorcery, then Threads of Unknowing was made for you. There’s a lot to digest, and much of it is undeniably well played by each member, with multiple quality moments to reference. If one prefers a more balanced approach of precision instrumentation and articulate flow, then sans the last track, you may wonder what just happened at the end. VoidCeremony have every single attribute to make a stunning and definitive album, and may well be on the cusp of doing so – just not quite yet.