Review by Sonny for VoidCeremony - Threads of Unknowing (2023)
Threads of Unknowing's smothering of it's tech-death aspirations with the filth-ridden atmospherics of old-school death metal results in a classic case of an album falling between two stools and failing to satisfy the occupiers of either of them. I can't imagine for one minute that any adherent of the more expansive side of technical death metal, which VoidCeremony seemingly wish to align themselves with, are at all appreciative of the muddiness that the production has bestowed upon the album's sound. It seems to detract from the efficacy of the technical elements, elements which are surely better served by the clarity of a cleaner production. On the other hand, acolytes of the Morbid Angel / Autopsy cavernous approach are unlikely to be overly impressed by the album's technicalities.
I am becoming increasingly self-conscious about my aversion to the more technical forms of metal and I really wish I could "get it" so that I didn't appear to be such a glaring ignoramus, but I just don't I'm afraid. I guess my relationship with music and metal in particular is more based on either the buzz metal creates with it's energy as personified in memorable killer riffs and searing solos or in all-encompassing atmospheres, be it the expansiveness of atmospheric black metal's nature-based themes or the oppressive darkness of funeral and death doom, sludge or drone metal. To me, technical-based metal of the type that VoidCeremony deal in, is just too counter to what I look for and is probably better suited to people who are more interested in the intricacies of music production itself. I understand the compulsion to be challenged by art and to venture outside one's comfort zone, but I've played that game and have no further wish to expend a huge amount of time and mental energy on something I derive little enjoyment from. This somewhat rambling explanantion is by way of an apology as to why I am unable to get on board with what a band like VoidCeremony are trying to achieve, a problem have encountered previously with the likes of Gorguts' Obscura album.
Now, it isn't all bad news for me with Threads of Unknowing, because suddenly, in the album's latter stages, things take a turn for the better as the band turn a corner onto a more progressive road. At the Periphery of Human Realms (The Immaterial Grave) is a rather lengthy title for what feels like an instrumental intro into the progressive epic that closes out the album, Forlorn Portrait: Ruins of an Ageless Slumber. I wouldn't say they abandon their technical approach completely here, but they do dial it back a bit and lean much more towards a progressive style, a move that I am much more in support of. The last track in particular sounds much more like something King Crimson may have laid down around their Red era, had they been even remotely interested in death metal. This track just flows so much better than the earlier techy tracks and the changes in tempo and timbre are much less jarring and feel much more organic.
I agree with other reviewers that the deeply growled vocals are distracting and sound completely out of place for the majority of the album, a harsher vocal with a bit of a higher register feels like it would be much more appropriate, but I guess the band knew what they were aiming for. So, in summary I would have to say that Threads of Unknowing feels like a worthy misfire to me. Whilst I applaud the band's unconventional approach to technical DM, the production is just too anomalous and does the band no favours at all. I enjoyed their efforts significantly more on the two closing tracks which took a more progressive approach than the earlier tracks' technicalities which, frankly, left me cold.