By Bryan Camphire. Ingurgitating Oblivion is a Berlin-based group headed by Florian Engelke, who has hewn his visionary style of death metal for the past twenty years. Vision Wallows in Symphonies of Light, features a new cast of musiciansBy Bryan Camphire.
Ingurgitating Oblivion is a Berlin-based group headed by Florian Engelke, who has hewn his visionary style of death metal for the past twenty years. Vision Wallows in Symphonies of Light, features a new cast of musicians, perhaps most notably Lille Gruber of Defeated Sanity on drums. Engelke remains as the band’s sole original member and functions as the group’s primary songwriter.
It bears contemplating the word ‘symphonies’ from the album’s title, because the album is just that. It is not difficult to imagine this music transcribed for an entire orchestra, as the record is rife with rich interlocking harmonies. The composer is clearly a careful student of the deep history of death metal. Rather than looking inward and provoking an old school revival as is commonly done, this music looks outward toward what death metal can become.
Visions... is a collection of four long-form tunes that are packed with dynamics. The heavy sections are chock full of unorthodox guitar harmony and blistering convulsive rhythms. The guitar uses a lot of sustain - letting notes ring out for several beats, which is a technique more common to doom rather than death metal. Interestingly, the rhythm section keeps churning and pummelling throughout, giving the music an almost seasick off kilter feeling like an uproarious crashing sea amidst a horrible storm.
A fair amount of space is devoted to more restrained sections of music, which serve as a sort of ballast, stabilizing the tunes between apoplectic fits. Still, during its quieter moments the record maintains its savagery. At such times it tends to remind me of post-hardcore masterpieces by 90s bands like Don Caballero or Rodan. Ingurgitating Oblivion do play pretty sections of music, yet these stretches always feel foreboding, with the possibility of an attack ever looming overhead like a sword.
The second track, the brilliantly titled, “A Mote Constitutes What to Me Is Not All, and Eternally All, Is Nothing”, begins with bowed vibraphone. If anyone can tell me of a heavy metal song preceding this one that begins with bowed vibraphone, I will happily eat my shoe. And the record just keeps getting stranger as it goes along. The piano outro of the third track sounds almost like an excerpt of Scriabin's mind-melting Piano Sonata #6. Still, make no mistake, this is very much a death metal record, and a crushingly heavy one at that.
With Visions…, Ingurgitating Oblivion show themselves to be a group with originality to burn. It is unusual enough for a band to have riffs that sound like no one else. It is especially rare for a band to have its own approach to timekeeping. Ingurgitating Oblivion's rhythms feel nuanced in a way that is entirely of their own invention. The phrasings leave the listener grasping for solid footing, like scaling a steep cliff face as rocks turn to dust in your hands and under foot.
Adventurous listeners will find themselves transported by this music into weird realms of dizzying heights.Visions… offers forth strange imaginings that travel beyond the frontiers of accepted knowledge of the form, arriving at a heavier and darker death metal. With all the buzzing dissonant harmonies and menacing rhythmic assault on display, the music seems to come at you like a swarm of enemy insects. It is almost too much to take in all at once, nevertheless there it is, and it is dangerous.