Nothing But The Whole
Review by Chris Pratl on March 13, 2018.
Belgium's Emptiness is a very interesting band, to say the least. When I hear the tags of "black/death metal" I immediately think of some classic hybrid of sound and occasional fury that disseminates volatility throughout my listening room. What I didn't expect was an even flow of sorrowful, almost lulling tones that are rife with deathly cynicism and haunting beauty. This is most definitely not your typical death metal heard today, and I'm not sure the band would dig the sentiment of beauty being associated with its music. That said, subjectivity and personal engagement is what it's all about. Also per usual, Dark Descent Records pulls out another winner!
From the very first notes, Nothing But the Whole creates a stimulating pathway that offers no light or comfort as you are surrounded by the sounds of an unearthly fogginess. Between the slow and brooding elements and the genuine weight of the guitar tone I'm simply mesmerized at the sheer brilliance of this record on every level. I'm sitting here literally encased by this tremendous music and all I can force myself to think about is how to classify this band's album...so I just won't bother. What I can offer you is the opinion that this particular CD is probably unlike anything you'd have heard in recent years. There is a real sadism wrapped in the almost hypnotic chords laced effortlessly throughout. By the time 'All is Known' barrels down into your psyche, you're completely entranced by this album, and it's a truly pleasant experience. This track is a very subduing piece to take in, and its successor, 'Tale of a Burning Man' just capitulates on the very aesthetics of the death metal / black metal marriage with its speedy guitar riffing and overall wall of darkness that accompanies any genuine meshing of the two worlds. You can literally find everything in this effort, and I think more people are going to be digging out this band's back catalog in the coming weeks.
The vocals are a perfect hushed tone of breathy defiance that sort of languish under the music's easy aura. There is so much going on I'm not entirely sure this isn't some grand nightmare come to life or just an expertly crafted piece of horror and solitude that just happens to have musical accompaniment. I think the additional merging of two ideas and worlds might serve well here in that regard; the musical nightmare you may experience will only be highlighted by moments of serene claustrophobia and an occasional visitation of mental decaying.
There is a perfect solemnity and a true authenticity to the somber, evocative mood emanating from this collective. Nothing But the Whole is everything serene and encapsulating in the dim, grainy bosom of death; there is nothing more gratifying than to be subdued by an overwhelming feeling of dread in her most hospitable and musical form. Emptiness provides her with such a soundtrack.
(Originally written for www.metalpsalter.com)