Spectral_voice Sparagmos

Spectral Voice - Sparagmos


Rituals have been with us since the Paleolithic era, stretching back to tens of hundreds of thousands of years ago. It is highly likely that the act of repetitive rituals was one of the earliest documented forms of collective behavior in the history of humankind. Sometimes a sacrifice to the gods, sometimes to send a loved one to another plane of existence. Music in its various forms, whether being performed by a throat singing shaman, a chanting of a “church” choir accompanied by an organ, or a simple rhythm that comes out of a crudely made percussion, has always been an integral part of these endeavors.

It is inevitable and only natural to feel a sense of disconnection or disorientation for an average contemporary mind when faced with the ancientness of such practices due to its severely worn-down ties with nature. However, the sense of awe is almost inevitably followed by these feelings. When contemplating why we still fill up theaters and concert venues, the underlying reason lies in filling the gaps that our ancestors never had to deal with. Undeniably, there has been an increasing trend, an inclination in extreme metal to fill this void as well. Funeral-Doom or Death-Doom has never been this popular. But in a genre (metal in general) that tends to keep itself busy with theatrics since its inception, one wonders: how can artists attempt such a task with sincerity?

The reason I delved into the topic of rituals is simple: I started listening to this record with no prior knowledge behind its concept. From the very first note to the end, I felt like I was witnessing an ancient ritual that was taking place in a cavern. Later on, it wasn’t much to my surprise to find out the meaning behind Sparagmos is: the dismemberment of a victim, forming a part of some ancient rituals and represented in Greek myths and tragedies. Sparagmos is an interesting record – it succeeds at being subtle, yet managing to create multiple memorable moments in the listener’s head after just a handful of spins. Death-Doom is never an easy listen, it can easily turn into background tunes when not paid enough attention. However, the record contains certain anchor points throughout that saturate the album’s purposeful, muted sound and this helps to make the experience a dynamic one. An example for this can be heard in the very middle of the second track- “Red Feasts Condensed into One” , one that starts rather a natural continuation of the previous song. But when we get to the 5:36 mark, all the instruments quiet down and an atmospheric play of cymbals with a very ritualistic and hellish horns welcomes us triumphantly. A halt that enhances the record’s atmosphere, reminiscent of the magnificently eerie saxophone work by the genius Colin Stetson in the score of Hereditary. From here the song takes a more melodic direction, especially towards its ending with semi-orientalist leads accompanied by shouts of agony followed by saggy yet mighty riffs that can remind you of the titanic and slow riffage from mid-era days of Nile. Splashes of frenetic moments are another factor that makes this ride a joy and thankfully, there are many enough to protect the album’s savage nature. Moments like the blast-beating that starts as “Sinew Censer” going into its first minute or the nasty but tight tremolo work that goes with economic drum fills all throughout the latter half of the song thankfully aren’t few in the album.

From a production standpoint, the album’s sound is powerfully dry enough to make you feel each stalagmite in your Death Metal cavern yet all the tasty use of reverb in the arpeggio leads and the vocals let you see the stone is soaked wet with ceremonial blood.

With their sophomore effort, Spectral Voice, just like the three quarters of the band’s other act – the mighty Blood Incantation- continue to prove their earnestness in creating a vivid and nuanced imagery. Both bands avoid all things flashy and are very direct in what they want to express. Sparagmos might not be something for every Blood Incantation fan, but it is absolutely certain that it will be in the top lists of every Death/Doom fan. The interesting thing about it is that the record doesn’t sound evil to my ears but rather pours down on me as a cold fact of nature, that death and absence of light lie in the other side of the cycle and should be embraced. Approach with patience and with fully open ears.