Threads of Unknowing by VoidCeremonyRelease date: April 14, 2023
Label: 20 Buck Spin
Threads of Unknowing is VoidCeremony’s new and blistering follow up to their previous progeny Entropic Reflections Continuum: Dimensional Unravel. 20 Buck Spin as a record label has been a consistently high quality conduit for mind-bending heaviness and Threads of Unknowing is no exception to this, a wonderful collection of abyssal wonk. Even better, another band with Garrett Johnson and Phil Tougas of Worm? Yes please. Threads of Unknowing certainly carries through aspects I love from Worm; of something cosmic having gone awry, but the overall sound here is very up-front, close and mechanical comparatively. It’s tonally interesting whilst still being extremely aggressive which is a balance that isn’t always struck particularly well.
The monstrous and incantationary quality of the vocals (shared between Garrett Johnson and Phil Tougas) are drier (for the most part, effects are used well in very specific passages) than you might expect, but sit perfectly in the mix, providing a cavernous tone just by virtue of performance rather than trickery. There are some borderline math shifts at work between the maelstroms of blasts deftly provided by Charlie Koryn. This precision and ability to change meters on a dime combined with the serpentine fretless bass work of Damon Good gives VoidCeremony the uncanny feeling of expanding on the framework that was set by Death in the 90’s (in particular Individual Thought Patterns). This feels particularly apt when considered alongside the cover artwork which depicts a sort of ancient future, there’s a sense of nostalgic or even throwback metal combined with something more contemporary at work for me on this record, of something throbbing through the recesses of time and out into new directions.
On this generally high calibre record, there are still some real stand out moments, the coda in ‘Writhing in the Facade of Time’ has a tremendously sci-fi escaping-from-an-exploding-spaceship-as-it-disintegrates feel, the pinched harmonics like exploding circuitry. This is followed by the ship exploding us out into space with a guttural belch, the delay on this last vocal grunt only reinforcing the sense of wafting off into space after the blast; strangely I was reminded of the last of Holst’s Planet suite where the outro of Neptune’s movement does a similar thing. Whilst ruminating on this similarity I was then greeted by a swirling organ passage, which whilst feeling slightly incongruent gave a sense of finality to the track I didn’t know I was craving.
The track ‘At the Periphery of Human Realms (The Immaterial Grave)’ has a sublime, watery feeling to it, almost reminiscent of moments from Boris’ Flood or even the water levels in Super Metroid. This makes the entrance of the final track ‘Forlorn Portrait: Ruins of an Ageless Slumber’ hit that much harder with its tightly coiled opening assault before the track opens out into a wider expansive of timing shifts accompanied by a stepping back of the vocals. This very effective arrangement (which is characteristic of the entire record), of tight and particular sections balanced with these wider expanses giving the track the effect of pulsation, perhaps of the vicissitudes of some sort of civilisation throughout time.
If I had to nit-pick I might perhaps confess that some of the lead guitar alchemy stepped a little too far out of the space the band occupied for me during a few moments on the record (just over halfway into ‘Entropic Reflections Continuum’ for example) the tone a little too vibey, too nebulous for the pummelling around it but on the most part, the guitar leads feel more part of their abode and add to the tracks immeasurably. Overall, this is a great record if you like your death metal progressive, cosmic and idiosyncratic but also, belligerent and pulverising.