June 4, 2014

Emptiness - Nothing but the Whole

Written by Kevin Page.

My introduction to this Belgium black/death metal outfit came via 2012's, Error. While not a bad album, it never quite grabbed hold and swept me off my feet. They weren't able to fully encapsulate what they were attempting to convey. The approach was different, I respected that, and it contained enough intriguing ideas that I was willing to give future albums a listen.

Well that future album turns out to be one of 2014's best releases, Nothing But the Whole (once again being released on Dark Descent Records). This is a record that is as equally good as it is different and interesting. There isn't a single thing "typical" about Nothing But the Whole (vocally, musically, production, etc.). While Error hinted at what Emptiness were going for (and only partially succeeding), Nothing But the Whole, swings for the fences and connects.

Now be forewarned, this album is odd in its approach and not traditional by any means. Will this turn off a few people who are impatient? Probably, but its well worth your time to allow it to sink in over the course of many weeks or months. As I write this review I'm still discovering new things I haven't heard before.

You won't be steamrolled or run over like a freight train. What the band has accomplished is the ability to take you on an alternate journey along what seems to be a well treaded path (but really isn't). It will comfortably stray a few yards away in the bushes on the side of the road, almost ready to jump back on the known path, but never does. It deliberately wants to tease you. You'll experience plenty of moments where you think "Ok, they are gonna kick it into high gear here", yet they don't. Again, this may frustrate some people in our instant gratification world but patience and restraint pays off in the end.

Over the course of its 7 songs and 39 minute run time, you will experience a swirling mass of dark atmosphere. You'll hear background chatter as if you were walking on a busy city street. You'll be hypnotized and mesmerized, yet like everything else about this album, not in a way you would expect.

Death metal with a twist. A grower, not a shower. Immolation if they took a "chill pill" and got all trippy and spaced out on your ass. Whatever you want to call it, just get this album.

[Go to the post to view the Bandcamp player]

Tagged with 2014, black metal, Dark Descent Records, death metal, Emptiness, Kevin Page
  1. Spot on review. The band manages to make their music heavier by exercising restraint, really cool stuff. The music does to my music-brain what the album art does to my eyes, but in a good way.

    1. Agreed, very heavy without really being "crushing" in any way. Heavy moody music.

  2. This is superb. Like a black metal Godflesh.

    1. They excel at not doing the expected. An obvious example is the uncomfortable way album closer "Lowland" ends.

    2. Before my review I had to ask Dark Descent if that was normal, to make sure there wasn't an issue with the promo copy :)