I find it hard to tackle an album like this, which grew on me and I grew with him. Yet I must give this dark massive entity a voice within the realms of fellow ground-shakers and here are my dull words.
The third album of the Italian Doomers starts with a sample of a narrator addressing the nation, shooting more and more names of war victims (as the cover image and the booklet implore) and this is the proper beginning of this harsh vortex. One can find himself getting lost fast among this music, for the aching hearts always beat faster of any other sound.
Before all these personal words will fall like acid rain, one should know that VoS create a unique blend of doom-metal, mashing together all existing sorts of doom-metal, starting with funeral-doom in the veins of Skepticism and Hierophant and ending with traditional doom such as early Anathema and MDB. Above and within lies also a death-metal feeling around the cutting edges aside with obscure heaviness and some black-metal drops, that find their epitome in the attitude of Alan Nemtheanga, the furious Primordial frontman. If in previous albums VoS consisted of an utter darkness and bleakness (with their previous lead singer, whose vocals were quite blackish), in this album Alan brings upon this hellfire, known so well from the Primordial outfits. He roars in clean voices, he growls and screams and the outcome of his throat can sure stiff the listener’s hair up. This cooperation enables the album to become the ideal blend of lavish cold and burning flames. And since the Irish and the Italian got their bellies on fire, this album breathes both roughly and gently the yearnings for human touch, for heat, underneath the disappointment and back-turning on the world.
I always appreciated the poetic way in which Alan grinds his words. As a true poet his lyrics represent each album the exact spirit that the music yields. However, while in Primordial the main motives are the Irish lamentations, past and future, hopes and regrets, in this album there’s a pile of black words. All the menace of the world is coming into being throughout these stone words. Now, when the saddest music ever written meets this lyrical hell-hole, it is the end of the world. When all else has failed and gone, when death scrambled men’s ears.
The doom riffs are perfect: they’re heavy and filthy, and the ambient above gives them the exact opposite to an ethereal feeling. So unlike Oscar Wilde’s saying VoS’s legs and eyes are deep in the gutter. The production gives all these factors a wide space to elaborate in, conducting this piece of oblivion. Also I recognize a certain liturgical music influence, which manifested in the rich synth layers: VoS designed them to be sometimes a dark Gregorian choir (in some moments, with ‘real’ choir singing) and sometimes god’s wrath (the same god which is attacked in this album) itself, giving the final shade of an eternal elegy. In previous releases VoS shared the industrial influences into a form of industro-black-doom mutation. “Human Antithesis” reflects better the doomish side of their music, sharpened with the industrial scissors, as background samples and sometimes interfering with the pure ambient landscapes, creating yet another battlefield. The guitars are crispy yet shred a special heaviness trail along the song structures, which are an excellent example of wise new building upon used and lashed foundations.
All the six songs (including pacifying short instrumentals) touched me deep, but two of them managed to scratch the armor of my heart. The opening sequence, deathly epos that lend its name to the album, lasts for 20 minutes and is divided into three parts, a gloomy showdown – “the dream ends”, “empty prayers”, “black propaganda”. What do those names say? All, I tend to believe. It’s a progressive song in the very meaning of constant change, driven more and more into the bottomless pits, through manifesting sheer musical effort – heart and soul through sounds. The fourth song, “to a sickly child”, broke my heart, literally. Its melody, Alan’s vocals and lyrics, Ivan Zara’s aching guitars and Riccardo Conforti’s devastating synth. I cannot really explain how this allegedly banal mixture draws wounds across me. The horn blow, which starts this bleeding song, makes the first shivers. All afterwards is known and in the same time surprises each time anew, as if it’s a secret, one’s struggling to share and left with burning hands.
This album is yet another milestone in the doom-metal genre, blending all the well-known ingredients into this hot-frozen dirty bomb, setting new frontiers to all those who wish to deliver a black world through spine-tingling and smart sounds. I can remember but a few doom albums that showcased this amount of raw feelings, keeping this status after much listening. Regarding all this, the final conclusion is that this album is as heavy as a heart can be, and therefore, a must-have.
01 – Human Antithesis