Genre: Death/Doom Metal | Label: Dark Descent Records
Location: Denver, CO | Listen: Bandcamp
Death and doom metal are the two genres that when combined can create some of the gloomiest, most ethereal sounding atmospheres in all of metal. The great diSEMBOWELMENT is a shining example of how dynamic the combination can be, as well as how truly desolate it can sound. Their landmark album in 1993 set the bar as far as I’m concerned, and very few bands come close to achieving such monumental music. One of the bands that does justice to the sound is Denver’s Spectral Voice, and their debut album “Eroded Corridors of Unbeing” is by far one of the finest examples of the genre in modern times.
Spectral Voice formed in 2012, breaking out with their 2015 demo in addition to a couple split 7 inches before unleashing their debut album in 2017. In the three years since has come out, I’ve yet to get bored of it. For its genre, the five songs clocking in at 45 minutes is lean, but I feel they greatly benefit by not overplaying their hand. That being said, the second track is 14.5 minutes, so there’s no shortage of embellishment here.
Quite honestly, it’s no surprise that this album is great, considering 3 of the members are also in Blood Incantation. The songwriting is vastly different here, as there is obviously more focus on atmosphere, but there’s no shortage of riffs, nuances, and creepy melodies. Much like diSEMBOWELMENT, there is a variety of stuff going on here. From full out blasting tremolo death metal riffs, all the way slow sections with clean guitars, Spectral Voice commits fully to the exact kind of characteristics that make death/doom so great, and do so with convincing execution.
The aforementioned longest track, “Visions of Psychic Dismemberment,” covers plenty of territory over its lengthy duration. There’s some cool vocal effects that pop up here and there to compliment the tortured vocals of drummer Eli Wendler. He hits some deathly lows, but varies it up with yells, moans and almost chant like sounds, helping create a lot of dynamics. This kind of variety is echoed in the various textures of the guitars. As mentioned, they utilize clean guitars in some parts that sound really desolate. There’s also lots of lead melodies that have a nice use of modulation effects and echoes/delays. These effects make for such a rich listening experience and really help the band dive deep into the depths of doom.
“Eroded Corridors of Unbeing” was recorded at World Famous Studio in Denver, the same place that their sibling band Blood Incantation has been recording at. The record sounds massive, but it has a certain dark rawness to it, especially the drums. The kicks aren’t clicky like a lot of modern death metal records, and it feels like there’s a lot of room echo coming out nicely from the kit. A more polished drum sound would just not work as well. There’s also quite a lot of layering going on at times through out this record as songs build up, with different melodies and effects on top of each other. It comes out clear and smooth, so credit to the engineer for a job well done.
It’s one thing to play slow, but it’s another to understand how to integrate hooks into dismal music like this. Spectral Voice sprinkle in a ton of lead melodies in these songs, and that’s apparent with the instrumental track “Lurking Gloom,” as they hit us with some real cold and creepy leads one after another. The final track, “Dissolution,” displays this a lot as well, and again they do some multiple layers as the song approaches its end. They couldn’t have picked a better track to close the album out, the last couple minutes are pure death/doom ecstasy.
I can say without hesitation that this is one of my favourite records of the 2010’s, and as much as I enjoy Blood Incantation, I’ve found myself enamored with Spectral Voice. Comparison between the two bands isn’t really fair, and I wouldn’t entertain the thought if they didn’t share three members. It would be more fair to compare them to some of the excellent death/doom bands we’ve had in the last decade like Anhedonist, Krypts, Sinistrous Diabolus, and Void Rot. All those bands have made some powerful death/doom records, but I think Spectral Voice has best captured the essence of the genre that diSEMBOWELMENT laid out so many years ago.