Entity by NullRelease date: August 28, 2020
Label: Ván Records
Null build on their sprawling debut with a follow up Entity, six tracks of dense atmospherics elevated by some striking and properly extreme vocalisations.
The opening track ‘None’ immediately presents a lovely gritty guitar sound with mournful harmonics a powerful aura around the rhythmic punch. The sustain hangs out the distortion while the revolutions of hi-hat bring the progressing chords out to make a compelling intro. The vocal entry surprised me a bit, a sort of hollow, haughty wail that took a bit of getting used to but it’s idiosyncratic enough to make sense. When it soon gets screamy there’s something about its presence in the mix, or its floating separately above the riffs, that sets it into a sort of post-hardcore post-blackmetal area. The sort of standard realm of the singing between melodic clean-ish to shouty emotional roaring links to a style that listeners of Amenra and the like might find strongly to their taste, though it isn’t really in line with mine. But around that there’s some brilliantly outlandish vocal experimentation that makes this a much more interesting record. The clean but sort of strangled parts are even more over the top in ‘Reduced Beyond the Point of Renewal’, gurgling and warbling around the melody until ascending to a startling piercing point, and then a segue into what sounds like a singalong festive chant of quite some strangeness. Later on in ‘Conjoin the Vacuous’ there’s a vocal sound in that comes in like a tortured horse noise and seamlessly drifts downwards gradually to enter a twisted human register.
The music is perhaps a bit post-everything and expansive compared to my expectations from the musicians who feature in the gripping breakneck intensity of bands Misþyrming and Naðra (am not so far familiar with Carpe Noctem, who also have members involved here). But there’s something about the patterns and the slow building riffs that I can only really describe as formulaic and predictable, but those words are way too harsh and normally used in a very negative sense… here I mean that there are sort of inexorable gravity to the structures, that you might feel what’s coming up next but there’s a kind of recognition of inescapability in their heavy hammering of the nails that are lined up in advance.
So despite some aspects that could lead to an initial presumption that this is easily pigeonholed among recent popular styles, it’s definitely worth investigating further for the eyebrow-raising wildness of the singing, easily unusual enough to craft a singular sonic identity for the band’s heavy and atmospheric music.