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Thantifaxath - Void Masquerading as Matter Award winner

Void Masquerading as Matter
by James Peterson at 12 December 2017, 11:32 AM

I first heard of THANTIFAXATH from a couple different places: Firstly from Anthony Fantano’s Youtube reviewing channel “The Needle Drop,” where he touched on their preceding album “Sacred White Noise” in a review, and from my friend Matt Longerbeam because said album is basically his favorite album of all time. I’d listened to it occasionally but he basically convinced me they’re a band I really need to start investing more time into, so I was eager to dive into this release.

Right from the get go THANTIFAXATH come back with what they’ve shown me they’re all about: emptiness conveyed in music. Honestly, the opener “Ocean of Screaming Spheres” blew me away… it’s incredibly well put together. Usually I don’t remember quite this much from merely my first listen, but I really did here. The opening riff feels just… empty in a strange way like I said, and loops into itself at a point where you would least expect. This actually serves to help cement the mood they’re trying to set, and adds rather than detracts from the music. The chord progressions on this thing are…. completely alien. I can’t compare them to any other band as I often do in my reviews. There’s also a little section with tonally twisted piano that works great to bridge a couple of the riffs here. I love how there’s a part that’s contrapuntal but… contrapuntal on steroids. The guitar chords keep descending and the bass keeps going up an up.

Speaking of the bass, you can hear it perfectly throughout this record. I love every single thing about the sound engineering on here: everything is set at the right level in the mix, and the mastering sounds good too. All of the instruments have an organic timbre, the kick drums aren’t over-triggered and processed and the snare (and the kit in general) are all left with dynamic breathing room. Combined with the composition, the guitars have this very full but piercingly cold tone perfect for the black metal on display. And the vocals…. really complete the puzzle of what this band tries to evoke in the listener. It’s almost poetic because he sounds like he’s crying out from a deep cavernous abyss in the ground with the combination of his natural screaming tone and just the right amount of reverb being used.

The second song, “Self Devouring Womb,” starts off more droning in nature and ups the dissonance from the preceding song before settling into a really scrumptuous oddtime groove theme that comes back later, alongside desolate and absolutely tortured atmospheres created by the guitars and vocals before a blast beat section. All of that happens in the first couple minutes, and the song continues to go through a lot of linear changes in its structure but everything flows and fits together immaculately. I really love in particular how it weaves in and out of more unison or less claustrophobic sections and very layered sometimes downright intimidating stretches of blackened insanity, and how the quiet part starting at near six and a half minutes makes you think that the song is going to get heavy again because of it’s placement in the structure, but the end of the song wound up being a “Void Masquerading as Matter.” since… there’s no metal there where you thought there was going to be some.

Stupid attempts at jokes aside, the second song ending quietly works well because it allows a smooth transition to one of the more dissonant tracks on here that starts with strings playing in a very non-idiomatic post-Shoenberg manner which is reflected in the guitars once the metal does get built back up to shortly after. Before three minutes is about 50 seconds worth of… some of the most overwhelming successive guitar bend noises I’ve ever heard. It’s like if that one bendy riff “Shitstorm” in by STRAPPING YOUNG LAD was pumped with steroids. And then there’s the entire second half of the track… at this point I can compare it to ABYSSAL in that… they’re the only other band that has actually given me a legitimate sense of anxiety and dread when listening, along with the aforementioned SYL with the masterful “Alien”’s album closer “Info Dump.”

Some of the most ethereal choir vocals imaginable are heard throughout the title track which is the fourth and final piece presented here, and with the close harmonies being sung you can really hear the beat frequencies ring and clash in the overtones. The vibe given off here honestly sounds to me like a combination of the organ opening to the final movement of Leonard Bernstein’s “Chichester Psalms” (which I used to hate but now I love) and the creepy choir classical piece used in 2001: A Space Odyssey… unfortunately I can’t remember that pieces name offhand. I find it being almost 8 minutes to be a little exhausting though, but in smaller doses I really love stuff like this.

The atmospheres and band sound conveyed on here are genuinely unlike anything I’ve ever heard. I can’t compare this to anything. It’s truly desolation from another dimension. Terrifying at times, claustrophobic at others, and all with a true musical reflection of emptiness and suffering. Ridiculously strong record.

Songwriting: 8
Originality: 10
Memorablity: 9
Production: 9

4 Star Rating

1. Ocean of Screaming Spheres
2. Self Devouring Womb
3, Cursed Numbers
4. Void Masquerading as Matter
Record Label: Dark Descent Records


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