Review – VoidCeremony: Dystheism

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  • Bio: n/a
  • Label: Self-release / Blood Harvest Records (2015)
  • Release Date: October 24th, 2014 / May 29th, 2015
  • Genre: Progressive Black Metal, Progressive Death Metal
  • Website: Visit Website
  • Rating (out of 10):

VoidCeremony hails from Ramona, California. While they only recently formed, coming to life in 2013, the four-piece outfit has been making a name for themselves throughout the underground ever since. Founded by guitarist/vocalist Garrett Johnson (ex-Archaic Mortuary) and guitarist/vocalist Jon Reider (Ascended Dead, Invocation War), the duo eventually inducted bassist Ian Mann (Ghoulgotha) and drummer Charlie Koryn (Impure Consecration) in 2014 to fill out the ranks. Later that year, the band independently released their debut EP, Dystheism, on extremely limited cassette. Months later, it was picked up for a proper vinyl release through Blood Harvest Records. But is it something that should be left to obscurity, or is this a well deserved second chance fans of the genre shouldn’t pass up?

Of course, Dystheism is your traditional rough sounding analog release, which, given the formats it has been made available on, it was to be expected and feels natural to the listener. The problem is that there isn’t really much of a creepiness to go along with it. If anything, it just sounds like the band playing in a white room somewhere instead in the murky depths with much of the audio bouncing around in an intimidating manner that follows you wherever you go. The guitars have a fairly blunt distortion, the bass often rattles, and the drums come through buried just a tiny bit in the mix as well. The problem is that they all sound pretty crisp, as if using modern technology, save for the kicks and certain other parts of the drum kit. The vocals, however, are the roughest part, having a decent echo to them that could have been a little louder to amplify the atmosphere further instead of just capturing sound waves a second or two later.

While the effect of the analog approach of the music fails pretty hard to convey the proper atmosphere, the music ends up another story all together. “Ceremony of the Void” is an overall intense track, but for the most part is something fans of the underground black/death metal world will be familiar with. Bursts of blast beats and furious guitars with a good amount of technicality here and there fill the performance with a good amount of hostility, but nothing all that new. The only parts that stick out are when the complexities are elevated with enthusiasm and temporary loss of bass about half way through, as well as trance-inducing climactic grooves that make head banging mandatory and not so much a forceful suggestion like before. “Profane Acculation of Execrable Reverence” does a better job overall by exploring that intricate guitar work a little further, not to mention managing to blend in a creepy sensation that, had the mastering been done right, could send a chill down your spine.

“Dystheism (Anti-Worship of the Demiurge)” channels more of a technical modern age black metal approach with some overlapping brutality from the random death metal soaked passage or bridge. The haunting hooks and highly distorted vocals that come off absolutely primal and intimidating by the two-minute mark is a fantastic touch that plays up the ritualistic angle the group is obviously attempting, and very well succeeding at. The chaotic guitar work and various blast beats also lend an air of intensity that makes the incantation element a far more powerful one.

VoidCeremony

“Lunar Qliphoth”, however, feels more like something torn out of the Nile playbook, though without the overtly emphasized middle eastern elements. Instead, it plays up a creepier tone at times through the many hooks that adorn the performance, especially at the start when it feels more like something early In Flames might have come up with. It’s brief, but traces can appear in the aforementioned light throughout, such as about a minute and a half in, seemingly trying to capture a vile dungeon-esque terrain well into a fairly tight guitar solo that the rawer analog quality sometimes does not do proper justice until the band’s progressive traits and additional bass guitar input kick in shortly after.

For what it is, Dystheism stands as a pretty good debut EP as far as the music goes. Sadly, the sound of the release comes off more like some kind of raw Hardcore or Punk D.I.Y. recording half the time, try as the band clearly does to make it creepy. Sometimes they do set up a mildly eerie atmosphere, and it sounds great. But, for the most part, it really does just sound like a bunch of guys in a white room recording into low-end modern equipment, if that. Had there been more of an echo effect all around to go for something like the output of an Immolation or early Incantation album, the impact definitely would be a lot more powerful overall. That issue aside, VoidCeremony are found putting their best foot forward, becoming more impressive the further in you get. If you missed out on the limited to one hundred run on cassette, now is your time to pick up the vinyl edition before this version is sold out as well.

VoidCeremony

Digital review copy of this release provided by Blood Harvest Records.